Returning to his comfort zone, right-hander Stephen Strasburg was consistent in his first start in his hometown of San Diego. He notched the win with another first - the first time he finished eight innings in a major league start - as the Nationals snapped a modest two-game skid with a 6-2 win over the Padres.
Strasburg (2-5) allowed just two runs over those eight innings, only one of which was earned.
"I think the last time I did it was 2009 in college," Strasburg told MASN's Julie Alexandria. "It has been a while to kind of get that monkey off my back. I've just got to thank (manager Davey Johnson) for letting me go back out there. I really do believe that I get more used to that, I think I am going to get a little bit better deeper in the game than I am in the beginning."
He wasn't just consistent, he also appeared more calm in the face of a possible Padres rally.
But Strasburg had to feel like a bit of dÃ©jÃ vu all over again in the fifth inning. Leading 5-0, with two men on and one out, a hot shot to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman turned into a throwing error when Zimmerman's throw to second was too high to catch the runner.
After the Zimmerman error, MASN cameras appeared to capture Strasburg saying, "I got it," to Zimmerman as he approached the mound to face the next hitter.
Strasburg allowed a grounder that scored an unearned run, but got out of the rest of threat unscathed with a strikeout of Will Venable to keep a 5-1 lead intact.
Strasburg then pitched around a leadoff double the next inning, giving up just one more run, and it was 5-2.
The next obstacle for Strasburg was attempting to get into the eighth inning for the first time in his career. He did just that with a 1-2-3 seventh frame.
Even with 107 pitches, Johnson gave him a shot. Strasburg had pitched through seven 10 times previously in his career.
Despite a walk in the eighth, Strasburg was able to finish the inning for the first time in his young career.
It all added up to a huge slide-stopping victory for the Nationals and the first win for Strasburg since opening day. The win also pulled the Nationals within a half game of the idle Braves. Pretty good Thursday in San Diego for Strasburg. Just like old times for the hometown boy.