Nationals hammer Sosa, but Strasburg done after three

Well, this has been an eventful inning.

The Nationals pounded Henry Sosa for four runs in the bottom of the third inning, with Ian Desmond, Rick Ankiel and Ryan Zimmerman hitting the team’s first set of back-to-back-to-back homers since July 11, 2009. But after just three innings, Stephen Strasburg is done for the day.

Strasburg threw 57 pitches in the first three innings, though he’d needed just 26 to get through the second and third innings. But manager Davey Johnson decided to hook Strasburg there, instead of letting him go five innings and get a chance at a win. Corey Brown pinch hit for him in the bottom of the third, and Tom Gorzelanny is on for the fourth.

Johnson said he would feel out Strasburg’s outing today, but in the end, the right-hander came out with about the same workload he had in his first start. It’s just that on Tuesday, he used his 56 pitches more efficiently, spreading them through five innings. Johnson had planned for Strasburg to pitch four innings on Tuesday, but he got himself some extra work because of how economical he was with his pitches. He couldn’t do that today, and he wound up leaving early. He’s averaging four innings a start now.

Strasburg’s stuff wasn’t as sharp as it was on Tuesday - he got into most of his trouble in the first inning, when he had trouble locating his fastball and needed 31 pitches to get out of the inning with a run and two hits. He was bearing down in the second and third, but he’ll have to wait for another day to carry that momentum forward.

The Nationals, though, might have a big enough lead for it not to matter. They’re up 5-1 in the fourth, and they can win the series if their bullpen holds the Astros down.