First innings have not been kind to Stephen Strasburg this season.
Prior to Wednesday’s game in seven starts this season, Strasburg had allowed nine runs, six of them earned, with an opponent batting average of .394 in the first inning.
The Dodgers added to that trend with two runs on four hits to take a 2-0 lead early in the final game of the series.
Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig all had singles in the first. Gonzalez and Puig contributed the RBIs. It was Puig’s first career hit at Nationals Park after going 0-for-9 in his first three games in D.C.
After that first frame, opponents’ average versus Strasburg in the first inning jumped to .425 (17-for-40).
The Nationals looked to get back at former teammate Dan Haren in their first at-bat. Haren’s ERA at Nats Park coming into the game was 5.52.
Denard Span started it all with a single. Anthony Rendon scorched a line drive to deep left field caught by Crawford only because he was, well, playing in deep left field.
Jayson Werth crushed a double off the wall. Adam LaRoche then smacked a two-run single down the right field line and the game was tied 2-2.
Wilson Ramos returned to the lineup with a double to set up men on second and third again. Then Ian Desmond walked the bases loaded. Danny Espinosa struck out swinging and Kevin Frandsen popped out to end the rally. But a good, quick answer for the Nationals and the game is even after one inning.
And it is worth mentioning the start of the game was delayed by 1-hour, 40 minutes due to rain. First pitch was 2:45 p.m.
Update: Strasburg seems energized after his team knotted things up after the Dodgers pulled ahead 2-0. He efficiently set down all six Dodgers hitters in the second and third frames as part of a string of eight in a row. Haren was able to do the same thing, getting eight straight outs from the end of the first through the third.
After three innings, the Nationals and Dodgers are tied 2-2.
Update II: The Nationals loaded the bases with one out in the fifth and took a 3-2 lead on a sac fly by Ramos. But that one run was all the Nats could muster as Desmond flew out to end the inning.
Strasburg has been rolling along since the first inning, allowing just one hit and no runs over the last four frames.
Update III: Strasburg was removed with two on and one out in the eighth, having thrown 114 pitches. Lefty Jerry Blevins came on in relief with Gonzalez at the plate, and induced a foul pop out. Righty Tyler Clippard entered to face Puig, and got him to fly out to end the threat, holding the Nats’ lead at 3-2.
That also preserved Strasburg’s departing line. He had a a very solid outing, finishing with two earned runs on seven hits and two walks in 7 1/3 innings. He struck out six. Strasburg didn’t allow a run after the first.
Update IV: Rafael Soriano notched a groundout and strikeout to start the ninth. He then matched up against Dodgers pinch-hitter Matt Kemp and struck him out with a slider up and in. Soriano is now 7-for-7 in save opportunities.
Strasburg is now 3-2 with a 3-2 victory over the Dodgers and a series win.