So far, another gem from a Nationals starter (updated)

FLUSHING, N.Y. - Over their last five games entering today, Nationals starters pounded the zone with fastballs, allowing them to keep their pitch counts low and work deep into games.

Stephen Strasburg’s following suit today.

The Nationals righty needed just 48 pitches through four innings of work and now sits at 68 pitches through five, largely because he’s challenged Mets hitters today. He worked mainly off his fastball, mixing in his changeup to keep hitters off-balance.

Strasburg has allowed just one run on three hits, and has struck out eight - four with the changeup, four with the fastball. He set down five in a row on strikes at one point, and only allowed one ball to leave the infield in the air through his first four frames.

That ball was a line drive homer off the bat of Ike Davis, but that’s been the lone blemish for Strasburg today.

He’s been staked to a 3-1 lead through five innings, thanks to back-to-back solo homers by Michael Morse and Danny Espinosa in the second.

Both guys continue to stay hot, and Espinosa’s numbers from the left side of the plate just keep rising. He’s now hitting .433 with six doubles, a triple, three homers, 10 RBIs and a 1.221 OPS against right-handed pitching in July.

Update: You can take the “so far” out of the headline of this entry.

Strasburg was magnificent today, allowing just the one run over seven innings and striking out 11. He didn’t walk a single batter, allowed just four Mets hits and needed just 94 pitches for his seven frames.

Davey Johnson will go to his bullpen for the eighth, but the Nats’ run of excellent starting pitching performances continues.

Strasburg got some insurance runs in the seventh when Adam LaRoche crushed a two-run homer to right. It’s his second homer in as many days and comes after the first baseman had struck out in his first three at-bats of today’s contest.

It’s a 5-1 Nats lead after seven. Six outs from a sweep and a fifth straight win.

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