Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) throws during the third inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Nationals Park, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon
June 24, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) Stephen Strasburg's return from the disabled list was delayed over two hours by an intense thunderstorm.

Strasburg was pretty intense himself.

The right-hander pitched five shutout innings in his return from the disabled list, Anthony Rendon tied his career-high with four hits and the Washington Nationals defeated the Atlanta Braves 3-1 on Tuesday night.

''Obviously I've been working really hard to get things going in the right direction,'' said Strasburg, who came in with a 6.55 ERA.

Strasburg (4-5), who missed 21 games with neck tightness, was resilient in his return. He allowed baserunners in four of five innings, but left with his first scoreless start this season.

''He was aggressive,'' manager Matt Williams said. ''It helps when you feel good. He used his fastball a lot.''

Strasburg used his time on the disabled list to work on his mechanics, and to seek advice from teammates.

''Talking to a lot of guys in the clubhouse while I was away really kind of shed some light, what my strengths, what my weaknesses are,'' he said, ''and I really just tried to pitch to my strengths.''

Strasburg allowed four hits and a walk while striking out six. He was lifted after throwing 94 pitches in a game that was delayed 2 hours and 12 minutes at the start.

''Five strong innings for us,'' Williams said. ''Tonight he had some (pitch count) limitations. The next time out he won't have any.''

Strasburg came in 4-7 with a 4.24 ERA against the Braves and hadn't beaten them at home since 2012.

''We battled a lot, tried to get his pitch count up, maybe try to do something against the bullpen, but their bullpen came in and did pretty well,'' Atlanta's Chris Johnson said.

Washington's David Carpenter came on to retire Juan Uribe with two men on in the eighth.

Drew Storen pitched a scoreless ninth - despite loading the bases - for his 21st save.

Wilson Ramos added three hits for the Nationals, who have won four straight while allowing a total of four runs.

Cameron Maybin homered in the eighth inning, and Nick Markakis had three hits for Atlanta.

Alex Wood (4-5) allowed three runs and 10 hits over seven innings.

Atlanta struggled to score without first baseman Freddie Freeman, a career .340 hitter against Washington. Freeman, who has been out since last Thursday, went on the disabled list Tuesday with a bruised right wrist.

The Nationals got to Wood for runs in three of the first four innings.

Denard Span doubled leading off the first and scored on a single by Rendon.

Rendon came in hitting .230, and had gone 2 for 16 over his last four games.

In the third, Michael A. Taylor singled and took second when Maybin misplayed the ball in center field. Taylor stole third and came home on Span's one-out single past a drawn-in infield.

In the fourth, Taylor's hit scored in Danny Espinosa.

''He didn't let them put a crooked number up,'' manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Wood's effort.


Braves: An MRI on Monday did not reveal a more serious injury for Freeman. ''Just a contusion,'' Gonzalez said. ''Hopefully, we get him back sooner than later.''

Nationals: Williams said 1B Ryan Zimmerman (left foot plantar fasciitis) took some swings for the first time since going on the DL.


Atlanta RHP Shelby Miller (5-3, 1.99) takes a 0.73 ERA over four career starts against the Nationals into Wednesday's game. He will face LHP Jordan Zimmermann (5-5, 3.75), who has lost three straight starts.


The Nationals are mourning the death of Kimberly Knorr, wife of bench coach Randy Knorr. ''The Washington Nationals are shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of Kimberly Knorr, the wife of Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr,'' Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said in a statement released after the game. ''Randy and Kimberly have been beloved members of our Nationals family dating back to his days as a player for the Montreal Expos. Kimberly was an exceptionally warm, loving person who devoted much of her time to helping others. We are heartbroken by her loss.''


Uribe's at-bat against Carpenter was a rematch from the 2013 NLDS, when Uribe's two-run homer for the Dodgers off then-Braves reliever Carpenter clinched the series in Game 4. This time, Carpenter got Uribe to fly out.

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