Strasburg rides offense to fourth victory
Righty strikes out nine over six innings; Desmond hits three-run homer
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals offense showed signs of life on Friday night, as it collected 15 hits and pounded the Rangers 9-2 at Nationals Park behind Stephen Strasburg's stellar six-inning outing.
Washington improved to 26-27, with Strasburg (4-4) allowing two unearned runs on six hits and nine strikeouts.
In their previous seven games, the Nationals had a .127 batting average with runners in scoring position. That changed Friday, as the Nationals went 4-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
The Nationals were behind, 2-0, in the fourth when Ian Desmond swung at a 1-0 pitch from right-hander Colby Lewis and hit a three-run home run to give Washington a 3-2 lead.
"[The homer] was real big," teammate Denard Span said. "We got behind early. The mood was like, 'Here we go again.' We have been falling behind lately. With this home run, it gave us some type of energy. After that, we just piled on."
By the time Desmond reached the dugout, the Nationals showed that high energy. There was Desmond giving hard high fives to teammates Adam LaRoche and Nate McLouth.
"It was like ... [we're] not having enough fun," Desmond said. "People have been making that known to us. Every time you hit one from now on, it's partying."
The Nationals scored a combined six runs over the next four innings. In the fifth, with Span on first base, Anthony Rendon grounded out to third baseman Adrian Beltre, but Span kept running and scored on an error by first baseman Mitch Moreland to make it 4-2.
"I was stealing on the pitch. Rendon hit it and Beltre went to first base," Span said. "My instincts just took over and [I] just tried to get to third. I knew it was going to be pretty tough for Moreland to catch the ball and throw me out at third. It's just me being aggressive."
In the sixth, Tyler Moore came on as a pinch-hitter for Strasburg and hit a two-run double. With Robbie Ross Jr. on the mound an inning later, two runs scored for Washington when Wilson Ramos singled to right field. The ball went by right fielder Alex Rios for an error as Rendon and Jayson Werth scored to make it 8-2.
Washington scored its last run of the game in the eighth inning on an RBI single by Werth.
"Just because they weren't getting much offense lately doesn't mean they don't have an offense. I thought they swung the bats well and made things happen," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Strasburg was behind 2-0 because of an error he committed in the second inning. With a runner on first, Leonys Martin hit a routine groundball to Strasburg, who booted the ball for an error.
After that, Strasburg allowed RBI singles to Rougned Odor and Lewis. Before the Lewis at-bat, manager Matt Williams and head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz came to the mound to see if something was wrong with Strasburg. They noticed he made some weird movements with his arm. But Strasburg was angry and told Williams and Kuntz to get back into the dugout.
"He got mad at me, so I left," Williams said.
Strasburg settled down after the second inning, allowing three hits in his final four innings.
"He's not throwing 100 miles per hour anymore, but he throws hard and his changeup was great. He did a good job," Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo said.
What impressed catcher Wilson Ramos was that Strasburg didn't let the error and the two unearned runs bother him.
"He never put his head down. After Desi hit the home run, Stephen was confident. That's how you help each other," Ramos said. "Everybody hit well. That's the team I know, that everybody knows."