WASHINGTON (AP) —Stephen Strasburg struck out 10 and allowed one run in six innings for his 15th win in what could be one of his final starts of the season as the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 4-1 on Tuesday night.
For weeks, the impending shutdown of Strasburg has been the talk of baseball. Though the Nationals haven’t said exactly what their limit for the star right-hander is, it’s thought to be between 160 and 180 innings.
After this start, his fourth straight win, when he allowed four hits and walked one, he has thrown 145 1/3 innings.
Talk of his innings limit overshadowed discussion of the NL East race. Washington’s win gave the Nationals a seven-game lead over second-place Atlanta, their largest of the season.
The Braves have lost four straight.
Strasburg weathered a 51-minute rain delay in the third inning. He struck out Michael Bourn to begin the game and struck out two in the second. After he struck out Atlanta starter Paul Maholm and Bourn flied to left, the rain came. When the game resumed, Strasburg (15-5) caught Prado looking to end the third inning.
Strasburg struck out two more in the fourth, and in the fifth, fanned Juan Francisco, Paul Janish and Maholm to give him 10.
It was the fifth time this season Strasburg had struck out 10 or more. His career high is 14, which came in his debut on June 8, 2010.
In the sixth, Bourn grounded out. Prado doubled and Jason Heyward singled. Prado scored on Freddie Freeman’s sacrifice fly to center. After Heyward was tagged for the third out trying to advance when a pitch got away from Jesus Flores, manager Davey Johnson shook Strasburg’s hand when he reached the dugout.
Drew Storen, Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard each threw a scoreless inning. Clippard pitched the ninth for his 28th save in 32 opportunities.
Ian Desmond hit a two-out homer in the second off Maholm (11-8). It was his 19th of the season — and second in two nights.
Flores hit a three-run home run in the fifth for a 4-0 lead.
Maholm threw seven innings, allowing four runs and seven hits, walking one and striking out six.
Notes: Atlanta 3B Chipper Jones was rested after he told manager Fredi Gonzalez his knees were sore following Monday’s 13-inning game. ... Washington OF Bryce Harper struck out four straight times. He struck out in his final at-bat Monday. ... Heyward had three hits. ... This was the third straight game the Nationals have had delayed by rain. Atlanta RHP Kris Medlen (4-1, 2.03) pitches Wednesday against Washington LHP Ross Detwiler (7-5, 3.25).