Stephen Strasburg and Davey Johnson chat after the right-hander was taken out of the game after 5 innings. (Image Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE)

Game 41: Nationals 9, Orioles 3

It’s no secret that someday we’d see Washington’s pair of phenoms, Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, take control of a game and lead the Nationals to victory. This time around the timing couldn’t have been better, as it helped the organization avoid being swept by the Baltimore Orioles.

Strasburg was impressive over five innings of work, despite allowing a handful of early runs to the Orioles.

Baltimore got things started in the first, as Xavier Avery singled and then moved to second base on J.J. Hardy‘s flyout to center. Nick Markakis stepped to the plate next and continued to hurt the Washington pitchers by hitting an RBI double to score Avery and put the Orioles up 1-0 early. Markakis had a big series in Washington, hitting a pair of home runs and driving in 4 runs across the three-game set.

The Orioles would push across two more runs in the second, in part thanks to an error in center field by Harper that started the inning off and allowed Wilson Betemit to reach base, as he’d score just two batters later. With two outs, Avery would single to drive Chris Davis in with another run before Strasburg was able to strike Hardy out to end the inning.

Over five innings Strasburg allowed just the three runs, only one earned, while walking one and allowing four hits. His eight strikeouts pushed him back atop the NL Leaderboards with 64 on the year. Davey Johnson informed reporters after the game that towards the end of the fifth inning Strasburg informed him he was feeling a “little tightness” in his right bicep, which prompted the manager to take him out of the game earlier than expected.

Of course, he also impressed at the plate. Strasburg has swung the bat well over his career, with 5 hits in 40 at bats to date. He singled to start off the third, scoring two batters later, and came to the plate again in the fourth. Strasburg connected on an 0-2 pitch from Baltimore’s Wei-Yin Chen and sent it into the Orioles bullpen for his first career home run. That shot put Washington up 5-3.

Harper, meanwhile, had a big day at the plate that helped make up for the error he committed in the second. He tripled in the third, scoring Strasburg and Danny Espinosa. Markakis made a diving attempt at catching the ball in the right field corner, but couldn’t hang onto the ball as he crashed into the ground, resulting in the triple. He also singled in the fifth and walked in the eighth, coming around to score both times.

Jesus Flores added his first home run of the season, a solo shot in the fourth that came a batter before Strasburg’s shot. Danny Espinosa added another, his 4th of the season, in the eighth inning.

Champ of the Game: The nod today goes to Strasburg. He has continued to impress on the mound and the victory against Baltimore gives him his 4th win of the season. The home run is a bonus.

Chump of the Game: Xavier Nady continues to struggle at the plate. After going 0 for 3 on the day with a pair of strikeouts he’s not hitting just .139/.195/.278 on the season.

Next Game: Monday, May 21st, 7:05 PM EST, at Citizen’s Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA. Gio Gonzalez (5-1) vs. Kyle Kendrick (0-3).

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Bryce Harper Nationals Orioles Stephen Strasburg Washington Nationals

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