In a battle of aces, Stephen Strasburg out-dueled Cole Hamels in leading the Washington Nationals to a 6-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in the rubber match of a three-game set at Nationals Park.
Both starters had a clean sheet entering the bottom of the seventh inning when Hamels was undone by three hits and a pair of errors. The Nationals scored five runs, four of which charged to Hamels, aided by a two-run double by second baseman Steve Lombardozzi. The five runs were more than enough for Strasburg and the Nationals.
In his best outing of the season, Strasburg tossed eight innings of one run ball to improve his record to 3-5 while dropping his ERA to 2.49. Strasburg didn’t surrender a walk for the first time since opening day and allowed just three hits. The Phillies lone run scored on a questionable balk call with two outs in the eighth inning.
Strasburg’s fastball clipped 98 mph throughout the game while the righty tossed a season-high nine strikeouts. Strasburg managed to keep hitters off balance with his off-speed pitches, and recorded 12 ground ball outs compared to just two of the fly ball variety.
Strasburg also saved his club from falling to the dreaded .500 mark as the team was able to keep its head above water at 26-24. The Phillies, who had a chance to pull even with the Nationals today, fell to two games under .500 at 24-26. The Nats moved to five games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East.
Hamels’ disastrous seventh inning belies the early-game dominance from Phillies’ lefty, but he still fell to 1-8 with his ERA moving to 4.57. Fortunately for the struggling Nationals, Strasburg appears to be rounding into form as summer approaches. The Phillies can’t say the same about their ace.