Strasburg gives it to Reds and heckling fan, 8-5 Nats

The Nationals got on the board in the series with the Reds, 8-5, thanks to another solid performance by Stephen Strasburg and a big sixth inning by the offense for the second game in a row.

Strasburg went 5 and 2/3rds innings allowing three runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out seven batters.

All you need to know about the fire of the competitor that is Strasburg occurred when he was taken out of the game in the sixth.

With the Nats up 7-3, a Reds fan behind the visitor’s dugout was giving it to Strasburg.

As he walked down the stairs to the dugout to high fives from his teammates, Strasburg yelled back “Scoreboard! Scoreboard!” and pointed to the video jumbo screen in left field that showed the Washington lead.

Willie Harris said it pumped him up to hear Strasburg get after the fan and said “Let ‘em have it, Stras!”.

And even though he was credited with the win (5-2), Strasburg would have changed a few things about the start.

“(I thought it was) just okay,” he said. “I kind of made some mistakes that I make time and time again. I have to change my mindset when trying to get a guy out with two strikes.”

Strasburg said he wasn’t intimidated about pitching in the Great American “Small” Park, as Jim Riggleman jokingly called it, a stadium known as a hitter’s park around the league. Strasburg said he was used to pitching in small parks in the Mountain West Conference at San Diego State.

“No, not at all. You should have seen some of the fields I played at in college. Playing a mile up on a field that is smaller than this. I have experienced this before.

“As long as you execute pitches it doesn’t matter where they hit it, as long as it is on the ground. If they hit it out, so what. Our hitters are hitting in the same park, too.”

After the game, Jim Riggleman said he regretted having Strasburg throw out of the stretch. Strasburg said they talked about it afterwards.

“He brought up a good point. There is always going to be things to look back on. Maybe think about doing things differently. Bottom line is we got a win tonight and that is what we were trying to do.”

Strasburg says the humidity got to his jersey and he had to change to a dry one midway through the game. You could see a few times Strasburg’s jersey buttons kept coming loose and he had to fiddle with them between pitches.

“The toughest part was trying to keep my shirt on basically. I was kind of weighed down with a lot of sweat. We just switched it out. (Then) I didn’t have a problem with that.

The bullpen got through a dicey seventh inning. After Drew Storen got into a jam, giving up two singles and a walk, Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard shut down the Reds the rest of the frame, allowing just one run. The biggest pitch came when Clippard struck out Jonny Gomes to end the seventh.

Again, they fought through trouble in the eighth. Chris Heisey pinch hit RBI single cut the advantage to 7-5 Nats before Matt Capps was able to induce a fielder’s choice groundout at second.

A Willie Harris solo homer in the ninth provided an insurance cushion and the final margin, 8-5.

Strasburg says the 15 runs in the last two games has been fun to watch from his perspective.

“It is awesome. We have been putting up numbers the last two games. It’s great. It makes the pitchers job that much easier. Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

The Nats offense was ignited by Cristian Guzman’s two-run homer to give them a 3-1 lead in the fifth. Two-run singles by Ian Desmond and Nyjer Morgan gave the Nats a 7-1 lead.

The Reds chipped away in the sixth against Strasburg on a Miguel Cairo two-run single. Drew Storen came on though to end the threat by striking out Drew Stubbs.

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