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Instant analysis: Nats 4, Marlins 1

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Instant analysis: Nats 4, Marlins 1

Game in a nutshell: The Nationals had to like their chances with Stephen Strasburg on the mound against a Marlins lineup he's owned. And they really had to like their chances after they jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second, with Strasburg and Adam LaRoche each delivering two-run singles. Strasburg did the rest of his damage on the mound, tossing six scoreless innings to bounce back from a ragged outing five days ago. Craig Stammen gave up a run in the seventh, but Sean Burnett tossed a scoreless eighth and then Drew Storen -- yes, Drew Storen -- pitched the ninth for his first save of the season. Thus, the Nationals took three of four from the Marlins and improved to 22 games over .500: a new season high.

Hitting highlight: The Nationals scored four runs in the bottom of the second, thanks to a pair of clutch hits from their most-consistent offensive players this season: LaRoche and Strasburg. Seriously, who has been a more consistent force with the bat than Strasburg, who is now hitting .343 with seven RBI? (That's more RBI than the Marlins' Nos. 1 and 2 hitters had entering today, by the way.) The big guy came to the plate with two on in the second and promptly sent a base hit to right field, bringing both runners home. Later that inning, LaRoche delivered his latest clutch hit: another two-run single. That gave the veteran first baseman 71 RBI for the season, which ranks seventh in the NL.

Pitching highlight: Coming off arguably the worst start of his brief career, Strasburg found solace in a familiar foe: the Marlins. The right-hander hasn't given up a run to Miami since last season (when the franchise's "city" name was still Florida). He's now thrown 27 consecutive scoreless innings against the Fish, including six superb frames today. Following his coaching staff's message, Strasburg relied mostly on his fastball, and because of it he managed to stay efficient. At 91 pitches through six innings, Davey Johnson could have left his starter in a bit longer. But why take a chance at this point in the season?

Key stat: Strasburg has given up four or more earned runs five times in his career. His ERA the next time he pitches: 0.90.

Up next: The Nationals hit the road for a 10-game, three-city road trip. It all begins at 8:05 p.m. Monday in Houston, with Edwin Jackson facing lefty Dallas Keuchel.

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Stephen Strasburg makes history at the plate against Atlanta

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USA Today

Stephen Strasburg makes history at the plate against Atlanta

Stephen Strasburg had the best hitting performance of his career against the Braves Thursday night, going 3-3 at the plate with two singles and a 420-foot three-run bomb. 

He didn't just set personal records but reached rare air in baseball history. He's the second pitcher ever with at least three hits, a HR, and five RBI since the DH debuted in 1973 and the fifth pitcher in the last 50 seasons to get two hits in an inning including a home run. 

Strasburg set franchise firsts with his performance, dating all the way back to the Expos. 

An extraordinary milestone for the Nationals' ace, hopefully Strasburg's performance will inspire the team during a crucial four-game series with Atlanta. 

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Nationals Roundup: Strasburg shines in Nationals' blowout of Braves

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NBC Sports Washington

Nationals Roundup: Strasburg shines in Nationals' blowout of Braves

In the first contest of a momentous four-game series, the Nationals trounced the Braves by a score of 13-4 behind Stephen Strasburg's historic performance. The Nationals improved to 51-44 and have the best record in baseball since May 24th

Here's the pertinent news to consider as the Nationals attempt to close the gap with division-leading Atlanta.  

Players News: 

Stephen Strasburg was effective as usual on the mound, but his performance at the plate was all anyone could talk about. He went 3-3 with two singles and a 420-foot bomb, becoming the second pitcher since 1973 to record three hits, a HR, and five RBIs in a game. In addition, he tossed 5 2/3 innings of three-run ball and registered his NL-leading 12th win of the season. 

Adam Eaton opened the scoring with an RBI triple to plate Stephen Strasburg, the first of eight runs in the third inning. In 91 games, he's batting .283/.365/.391 with six home runs and 24 RBI as one of many unsung heroes of the Nationals' hot streak. 

Anthony Rendon went 3-5 on the day, knocking in Adam Eaton with a double to deep center to give the Nats a 2-1 lead in the third inning. In the five games since the All-Star game, Rendon is batting .421/.522/.579 with three doubles. 

Injuries:

SP Max Scherzer: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Jonny Venters: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 18

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Aug 25

RP Justin Miller: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 16

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, Expected to be out until at least Aug 7

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 17

Coming Up: 

Friday 7/19: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Saturday 7/20: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Sunday 7/21: Nationals at Braves, 7:05 p.m. SunTrust Park

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