PHILADELPHIA The eighth pitch of David Buchanan's night Tuesday sailed not only low and not only inside but behind the legs of the left-handed-hitting Bryce Harper. Two pitches later, Harper crushed a hanging curveball to the deepest part of Citizens Bank Park, the National League MVP front-runner marveling at it before rounding the bases.
This sequence began another Washington Nationals win over the Phillies, baseball's first team to 90 losses after a 4-0 defeat. The Phillies had not lost 90 games in a season since 2000, and need to win seven of their final 16 games to avoid the franchise's first 100-loss season in 54 years.
Harper's home run, his first of his two in a four-RBI night, was all the run support needed for Stephen Strasburg. The former top overall draft pick dominated the Phillies, allowing merely one hit and striking out a whopping 14 over eight innings. He issued only one walk.
Cody Asche's single to right field to lead off the fifth inning marked the Phillies' lone hit. The 27-year-old right-hander threw 105 pitches 77 strikes before he was pulled. Blake Treinen threw a perfect ninth.
Meanwhile, Harper continued to bolster his strong MVP case. Seven innings after his solo shot off Buchanan, he added a two-run home run off Adam Loewen. His eighth home run in 11 games and third of the series was his NL-leading 39th of the year. The 22-year-old right fielder tallied a run-scoring single in the third inning and walked in the sixth. His .338 average leads the league.
Despite the ugly start against Harper, Buchanan turned in his best major-league outing since July. He allowed only two runs on five hits over six innings, the first time in four starts he left an outing with a better ERA (8.49) than when he started (9.11).
Strasburg became the first pitcher to strike out 14 Phillies in a game since Curt Schilling did so in 2003 as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The total matched Strasburg's career high that he set in his June 2010 major-league debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He struck out 13 in his last start, a loss to the New York Mets.
Odubel Herrera struck out in each of his three at-bats against Strasburg. Darnell Sweeney, Andres Blanco and Brian Bogusevic each fell victim twice. Every batter in the Phillies' lineup struck out at least once.
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