The Nationals had 16 chances with runners in scoring position Thursday in the opening game against the Padres and failed each time. On Friday, the Nationals got base hits on their first two RISP opportunities to provide Stephen Strasburg an early cushion against his hometown team.
After a 57-minute rain delay, Strasburg allowed a single by Everth Cabrera to lead off the game. But the right-hander then induced a double play and a fly out to keep San Diego off the board in the top of the first.
In the bottom half of the inning, Ian Desmond smacked an RBI double and Bryce Harper a run-scoring single, and the Nationals led 2-0. Desmond came into the game batting .208 with runners in scoring position and recorded his first base hit since Monday.
Update: Strasburg appeared to cruising along until he walked opposing starter Robbie Erlin with two down in the third. Cabrera notched his second hit of the game and then Chris Denorfia followed with another singleloading the bases for Yonder Alonso.
Without Seth Smith (right groin strain) and Chase Headley (15-day disabled list, strained right calf), Alonso is one of the few bats in the Padres lineup with some punch, but he has also struggled to begin the season with a .198 batting average. Strasburg was able to get Alonso to fly out to left field and the Nationals preserved their 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the third, the Nationals loaded the bases on hits by Rendon and Desmond, sandwiched around a walk to Adam LaRoche. Harper added a three-run triple off the wall in right-center, his second hit of the game, for a 5-0 lead.
Harper has a career-high four RBIs in just two at-bats. He had reached three RBIs in a game nine times in his career, the last time on Sept. 19, 2013.
One batter later, Jose Lobaton added another run-scoring single and the Nationals extended their lead to 6-0.
Update II: Harper left the game in the fifth with a possible left wrist injury.
The Nationals scored two more runs in the sixth. Adam LaRoche had a run-scoring double and a Desmond groundout made it 8-0 Nationals.
Update III: Strasburg delivers his best line of the young season, going seven shutout innings, allowing seven hits and two walks, with 11 strikeouts. He threw 109 pitches, 72 for strikes. It marks the 14th time in his career he has reached double digits in strikeouts in a game.
The Nationals added a two-run double by Rendon in the seventh. His fourth hit of the game was a career-high.
The Padres avoided the shutout with a RBI single by Nick Hundley in the eighth off Jerry Blevins. Nats led 10-1.
Update IV: THe Nationals scored another run on a RBI groundout by Lobaton off of Donn Roach in the eighth for an 11-1 lead.
Drew Storen pitched a scoreless ninth and the Nats won to even the series.
Strasburg improves to 2-2. The Nationals have 33 hits in their last two games. Now concern turns toward the status of Harper.