ATLANTA -- Each time an inning ended with another zero on the board, Stephen Strasburg hopped off the mound and jogged back to the dugout with a bounce in his step. After a brief 11-minute rain delay, a pitchers' duel began Friday night at SunTrust Park, as Strasburg traded scoreless innings with Braves right-hander Mike Foltynewicz.
Strasburg finally yielded in the seventh, when the Braves scored four runs, punctuated by a three-run homer from Dansby Swanson to lead Atlanta to a 4-0 victory. Foltynewicz never let up, tossing his first career shutout, a two-hit gem to give the Braves victories in the first two games of this four-game set.
"He was really good. I mean really," Nats manager Dave Martinez said. "I've seen him pitch a lot on video. And he was real, real good. Kudos to him. We couldn't get nothing going. Our guy was good too, he made one mistake and he knew it."
After giving up Swanson's home run, Strasburg would strike out the next batter he faced, before he exited the game with a cramp in his left forearm and hand on a humid night in Atlanta. Strasburg has battled cramps in the past, but once he took off his glove and began stretching his left hand on the mound, it prompted a visit from Martinez and a team trainer.
Strasburg tried to talk his way into staying in the game, but having already thrown 107 pitches, Martinez decided he had had enough.
"When you get those cramps like that, they're tough," Martinez said. "They're not going to go away. He did well. … He didn't want to come out, but I said, 'Let's get you out and I'll get you ready for your next start.'"
Prior to that inning, Strasburg was dealing. He fanned 10 in 6 2/3 innings, fooling the Braves with his curveball and painting the corners with his fastball. But he left a curveball over the plate in the seventh that Swanson punished into the left-field stands.
"That's part of being human," Strasburg said. "That's part of baseball. I think I just have to focus on all the good pitches I made. They capitalized on one mistake."
And the Nats could not figure out Foltynewicz, who outlasted and outdueled Strasburg in the best start of his career. After Bryce Harper singled on the second at-bat of the game, Foltynewicz retired 20 straight hitters until Juan Soto led off the eighth inning with a walk. Foltynewicz induced weak contact throughout the night, yielding just one walk and striking out 11.
Nats first baseman Matt Adams spent a year in Atlanta as Foltynewicz's teammate, but he said he never saw anything like this performance from him.
"Not to that level," Adams said. "He had everything working tonight."
Trea Turner collected a two-out, two-strike single in the ninth inning to extend his career-best hitting streak to 13-games.
HE SAID IT
"I don't think we've played bad these past two games. I just think we ran into a couple guys that had their stuff working. We're going to show up tomorrow and do our thing." -- Adams, on dropping the first two games of this series
Somewhat quietly, left-hander Giovany Gonzalez has become a measure of consistency for the Nationals, surrendering two earned runs or fewer in 10 of his 11 starts this season. He takes the mound against the Braves on Saturday afternoon at 4:10 p.m. ET at SunTrust Park with a miniscule 2.10 ERA. He will match up against right-hander Brandon McCarthy.