Game in a nutshell: Stephen Strasburg was stuck in a three-game losing streak. Ian Desmond was out of the lineup with a lingering oblique strain. The Nationals were silenced at the plate. Reason to worry? Um, no. Strasburg tossed six scoreless innings to improve to 10-4 for the season. He also chimed in with another RBI single, setting in motion a two-run rally off Ricky Nolasco in the top of the fifth. The Nats added two more runs off Nolasco in the sixth, with Michael Morse driving in one run and Danny Espinosa driving in the other. Tyler Clippard got himself into a big jam in the ninth, loading the bases with nobody out. But he escaped it and thus secured the Nats' fifth shutout victory of the season.
Hitting highlight: With Desmond on the bench, the Nats needed an offensive spark from somebody. So they turned to their best hitter ... Strasburg. Seriously, nobody has consistently put up better numbers at the plate than the All-Star pitcher. Strasburg drew a two-out walk in the third, becoming the first player to reach base against Nolasco. Then with two outs in the fifth, Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen decided to intentionally walk Jhonatan Solano and take his chances with the pitcher. Won't they ever learn? Strasburg laced an RBI single to right to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead. He's now hitting .385 (10-for-26) this season with four RBI, a .448 on-base percentage and .654 slugging percentage.
Pitching highlight: Strasburg wasn't in top form today. He gave up six hits and a walk, bounced multiple pitches in front of the plate and put himself in trouble several times. But when he really needed to make pitches, he did. And that's how he still wound up tossing six shutout innings. With two on in the second, he struck out John Buck. With the bases loaded in the third, he struck out Logan Morrison and got Hanley Ramirez to ground out (with Ryan Zimmerman making a nice play). And with runners on second and third in the fifth, he struck out Ramirez on a 2-2 curveball. That's called rising to the occasion, and that's what the ace of a playoff staff is supposed to do.
Key stat: All seven of the Nats' hits today were singles, which means their consecutive streak of games with at least one extra-base hit ended at 85.
Up next: This series isn't over yet, folks. We're wrapping around the weekend and concluding with a 7:10 p.m. Monday game. Edwin Jackson will take the ball for the Nationals against the always-combustible Carlos Zambrano.