Strasburg totally locked in vs. Braves (Nats lose 7-2)

VIERA, Fla. - When I looked at Stephen Strasburg's stat line before today's game, I was surprised how inflated it was.

Through his first three outings this spring, Strasburg had a 5.19 ERA, having allowed five runs in 8 2/3 innings, with 11 hits, three walks and 13 strikeouts.

That's why spring stat lines mean almost nothing. Strasburg had been much better than his numbers had indicated this spring, and today, the in-game results started to match how good his stuff has been.

Strasburg has worked five scoreless innings so far today, facing just one over the minimum in that time. He's given up one hit, walked one and struck out five.

All five of the strikeouts were of the Braves' top four hitters in their lineup (Tyler Pastornicky, Jordan Schafer, Justin Upton and Juan Francisco) and four were looking.

Strasburg's off-speed stuff has looked especially sharp today.

Manager Davey Johnson had planned to just give Strasburg five innings today, but the right-hander has been so pitch-efficient in setting down the Braves that he's back out to work the sixth.

Meanwhile, the Nationals haven't managed much off Braves starter Paul Maholm, who has matched Strasburg pitch for pitch.

Maholm has allowed two hits, walked one and struck out five in five scoreless frames. Bryce Harper has the lone base knock off the left-hander, a single to right in the first inning.

We're scoreless going to the sixth.

Update: Strasburg appeared to hit a bit of a wall in the sixth, allowing three hits and a walk before Johnson came out to get him.

Zach Duke replaced Strasburg, but got hit hard himself, allowing two inherited runners to score after allowing hits to three of the first four batters he saw. The lefty gave up hits to three of the first four hitters he saw and it's now a 6-0 game.

The final line on Strasburg: 5 1/3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 5 Ks. He threw 76 pitches, 53 strikes

Update II: Rafael Soriano worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning for the Nats, striking out one. He's now allowed two hits and struck out three in three spring appearances.

Henry Rodriguez then came on for the eighth, and after retiring the first two hitters he saw, Rodriguez allowed a sharply-hit single up the middle and then hit a batter.

Johnson came out to get him after Rodriguez threw 11 pitches, five for strikes.

Update III: It's a final: Braves 7, Nationals 2. Tyler Moore homered in the ninth for the other run.

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