Strasburg wins 14th as Nationals down Indians 4-1
CLEVELAND (AP) Stephen Strasburg's losing streak was short lived.
Washington's ace easily shut down Cleveland for seven innings and bounced back from his only loss this season, leading the Nationals to a 4-1 win over the Indians on Wednesday.
Strasburg (14-1) began the season with 13 straight wins before he was beaten by the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 21. The powerful right-hander made the most of his next outing by shaking off the one blemish on his resume this season and holding the Indians to three hits as the Nationals recovered after blowing a two-run lead in the ninth and losing on Tuesday night.
''This is what you want your big boys to do,'' Nationals manager Dusty Baker said of Strasburg, now 20-3 since Aug. 8.
Washington rookie Trea Turner drove in three runs and Daniel Murphy hit his 20th homer off Carlos Carrasco (7-4), who nearly matched Strasburg but was done in by one bad inning.
Nationals reliever Blake Treinen stopped Cleveland's threat in the ninth, getting a game-ending double play for his first major league save.
Strasburg had little trouble handling the AL Central-leading Indians, who came in with the majors' best record since June 1 but couldn't generate enough offense against the Nationals' $175 million man. He was in control from the outset and made Washington's 2-0 lead over the first five innings feel like the score was 10-0.
Strasburg walked one and struck out seven.
''He has a lot of weapons,'' Indians manager Terry Francona said. ''He can throw the ball by you, a fastball on both sides of the plate. He has a slider, change. He's got everything and his fastball has a ton of ride or finish, however you want to put it. His delivery. It's impressive.''
After Tuesday's rough loss, the Nationals needed a spark. Strasburg gave them one.
''A lot of times you respond to the guy who's pitching on the mound,'' Baker said. ''The game starts and stops with him having the ball in his hand.''
Strasburg understands what's expected of him whenever he takes the mound.
''I try to do that every time if we're winning or if we're losing,'' he said. ''All I can do is what I can on the day I pitch. It's a long season so I'm going to keep grinding.''
The Indians failed to turn a double play in the second and it cost Carrasco, who didn't help himself with three walks in the inning.
After he walked the first two batters, Carrasco got Ryan Zimmerman to hit a hard grounder to shortstop Francisco Lindor, whose throw to second was dropped by Jason Kipnis on the transfer. With two outs, Ben Revere battled Carrasco for 13 pitches before walking and Turner made the right-hander pay for his inability to throw strikes by lining a two-run single to left.
Strasburg took it from there.
He was never in real trouble and on the two occasions the Indians got a runner to third, Strasburg got the out he needed.
Jose Ramirez, who had two hits and reached base all three times up against Strasburg, was on third in the second when Strasburg struck out Rajai Davis to end the inning, blowing him away with a 97 mph fastball.
Ramirez got to third again with two outs in the fourth after third baseman Anthony Rendon's throwing error. This time, Strasburg retired Davis on a slow roller to third.
Murphy, the NL's leading hitter, extended his hitting streak to 13 games with his towering shot off Carrasco to make it 3-0. Turner's broken-bat RBI single in the seventh put the Nationals up by four.
Jayson Werth's leadoff walk in the second extended his streak of reaching base to 30 games - a career-high and the longest current run in the majors. ... Bryce Harper went 0 for 4 and is hitless in his last 17 at-bats. He's batting only .177 (14 of 79) in July.
Nationals: Bothered by vertigo-like symptoms for the past week, infielder Stephen Drew was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Drew has played just once in the past seven games because of an undiagnosed illness, and the team sent him back to Washington for further tests. Drew has been a valuable pinch hitter this season, connecting for three homers off the bench.
Indians: Several current and former players, along with Francona, will golf in a charity outing before starting a three-game series on Friday against the Oakland Athletics. RHP Trevor Bauer (7-4) will start the opener against A's right-hander Kendall Graveman (7-6).
Nationals: Washington flies to the West Coast to open a four-game series in San Francisco. Tanner Roark (9-6) will pitch the opener against Giants ace Johnny Cueto (13-2).