Locked in a pitchers’ duel (Strasburg done after seven)

We’ve got a fantastic pitchers’ duel here at Nats Park, with Stephen Strasburg and Brandon Beachy trading zeros and strikeouts.

Beachy was the first to blink, allowing a solo home run to Jesus Flores leading off the fifth inning. It was the second homer of the season for Flores, and it gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead.

Runs will be precious in this one, as both starting pitchers have been in a zone.

Strasburg has needed just 70 pitches to get through his five innings, which is remarkable considering he’s struck out eight. He’s allowed just three hits.

This is a stellar performance from Strasburg coming off three straight iffy ones. He had pitched to an ERA of 5.79 over his last three starts and hadn’t worked past the fifth inning.

Beachy, meanwhile, is at 91 pitches after five. He’s given up three hits and three walks, and trails Strasburg by three in the strikeout department.

The Nats have gotten great work out of Bryce Harper at the plate today, as the rookie has walked twice, seeing a combined 19 pitches in those two at-bats. He also singled in the fifth, but was gunned down at second trying to stretch it into a double.

Some might complain Harper was trying to be too aggressive there, but with two outs, I’ve got no problem with Harper trying to hustle into scoring position in that spot. He just got beat by a good throw by Jose Costanza.

Michael Morse is 0-for-2 so far in his 2012 debut, with two broken-bat groundouts to short. Morse got a rousing ovation when he came to the plate for his first at-bat, the fans clearly thrilled to have “The Beast” back in the lineup.

Update: Strasburg’s day is done after seven innings of work, as he’s lifted for a pinch hitter with the Nats threatening here in the bottom of the seventh.

The righty goes seven scoreless frames, allowing just four hits and striking out nine. Just a fantastic outing from Strasburg, working on an extra day’s rest.

The Nats tacked on an insurance run in the seventh on Xavier Nady’s pinch-hit double to right. They then stranded two runners in scoring position, but take a 2-0 lead into the eighth.

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