Nationals give Strasburg enough support this time
WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg said after his last start he didn't want to talk about run support, or the lack thereof. But there was certainly plenty to talk about Sunday as the Washington Nationals had 11 hits, including two homers and a double, as they beat the San Diego Padres 11-7.
Ryan Zimmerman keyed a six-run third inning with a grand slam as the Nationals swept the three-game series and won their fourth game in a row. The Nationals led 11-3 as Strasburg took the mound in the top of the sixth.
"It was a good series for us," said Strasburg, who improved to 5-6 as he allowed four runs in six innings. "We still have our best baseball ahead of us. I had to go out there and battle. You don't want to go out there and mess around" with a big lead.
Washington had scored just seven runs in the five previous starts Strasburg had made.
Zimmerman broke a 1-1 tie with his grand slam to right on the first pitch from San Diego starter Robbie Erlin in the third inning to make it 5-1. It was the 10th homer of the season for Zimmerman but just the second at home. He is 5-for-7 with 12 RBIs with the bases loaded this year.
"He has been more aggressive," manager Davey Johnson said of Zimmerman. "He is hitting the ball harder. Early in the count (he is) getting a pitch and driving it. Almost everyone in the lineup has been more aggressive."
Erlin (1-2) allowed nine runs in four innings. It was his fourth career start.
"This was a learning experience for a rookie pitcher," said Bud Black, the San Diego manager. "Robbie was throwing strikes for the most part but not commanding the ball. He showed a good curveball. The change up was not a factor. Every big league game is a learning experience."
Nationals rookie Anthony Rendon hit a two-run homer later in the inning off Erlin to make it 7-1.
Washington (46-42) has won seven of 10 games for the first time since starting the year 7-3.
"We have played well the last two weeks," said Washington reliever Tyler Clippard, who pitched a scoreless ninth and lowered his ERA to 2.15. "I think we are feeling confident."
The Nationals added four runs in the fifth to make it 11-3 as Zimmerman walked and scored, and Rendon drove in a run with a single.
An RBI groundout by San Diego's Will Venable cut the lead to 11-4 in the sixth, and the Padres added two in the seventh to make it 11-6.
Carlos Quentin had an RBI single against reliever Craig Stammen in the eighth to make it 11-7. Drew Storen then came in to pitch for the Nationals and got out of the inning.
The Nationals found a lot of holes with hits through the infield against the Padres (40-49), who lost their ninth game in a row to end a disastrous road trip.
All-Star Bryce Harper, who had an RBI single in the first inning to make it 1-0, reached base in his first four at-bats with three singles and a walk and also had two steals.
Alexi Amarista hit a two-run homer for the Padres in the fourth off Strasburg to cut Washington's lead to 7-3.
Chase Headley (three hits) had an RBI double in the third to tie the score at 1.
NOTES: The Nationals placed LHP Ross Detwiler (2-7, 4.04) on the disabled list with a lower back strain. RHP Dan Haren is expected to come off the DL and start Monday in Philadelphia. ... INF Everth Cabrera was named to the National League All-Star team on Saturday, becoming the third Nicaraguan to be named. He joined pitchers Dennis Martinez and Vicente Padilla as players to make it from his country. ... C Rene Rivera was called up from Triple-A Tucson and C Yasmani Grandal was put on the 60-day DL after he left the game on Saturday with a left knee injury when Rendon slid into him on a force play at the plate. ... The Nationals have not been four games above .500 since May 17 at 23-19. ... The Nationals are pushing Ian Desmond for the final NL All-Star roster spot. He began the day leading all MLB shortstops in extra-base hits, and 10 of his 15 homers have been go-ahead shots.