Strong Stras, slam by Zim carry Nats to win

Strong Stras, slam by Zim carry Nats to win

WASHINGTON -- If Stephen Strasburg's dismal start to 2015 led to plenty of questions, lately he's done nothing but provide answers. On Tuesday, the former No. 1 overall pick turned in his seventh consecutive terrific start as the Nationals toppled the Padres, 8-3, to notch their third consecutive win.

"Health is a big key," Nationals manager Matt Williams said of Strasburg, who's been on the disabled list twice this season. "If he feels good when he's out there then he's able to let it go. I don't know how many balls he threw that were 98 miles per hour tonight, but quite a few of them. He sat 95 to 97. That just means he feels good."

The Padres jumped out to a lead in the second inning after Yonder Alonso singled and Jedd Gyorko homered, but those were the only two San Diego hits off Strasburg, who struck out seven and retired the final 15 batters he faced.

Strasburg's strong start

Wilson Ramos commenced the Nationals' offensive charge with a game-tying two-run home run in the second frame, and Ryan Zimmerman capped the show with a grand slam in the sixth. The Nationals remained 5 1/2 games back of the Mets in the National League East as New York beat the Phillies.

"You're sitting 2-0 with the bases loaded," Zimmerman said. "You're in an obviously ideal position right there, just looking for something out over the plate that you can drive and just try not to do too much with it."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Summer power surge: When Gyorko ambushed a first-pitch fastball from Strasburg in the second inning, knocking it well over the wall in left field for a two-run run homer, it did more than give the Padres a 2-0 lead: It continued his power surge at the plate. He later added a solo home run in the seventh inning, giving him eight home runs since July 3.

Gyorko's second home run

That's why you get three: From Ramos' game-tying two-run home run in the second inning to Zimmerman's grand slam in the sixth that busted the game open, all eight of the Nats' runs on Tuesday night came with two outs. In between the two blasts, Yunel Escobar and Ian Desmond came up clutch with RBI doubles.

"If you get a base hit in that situation it means multiple runs," Williams said. "Those big-run innings are a product of those good at-bats and having guys out there."

Ramos' two-run homer

In harm's way: It certainly wasn't always easy being Padres starting pitcher James Shields on Tuesday. Shields, who pitched into the sixth inning, had a Desmond ball glance off his glove in the third inning and then took a line drive off his right foot on the final pitch that he threw with two outs in the sixth. Shields, who allowed five runs in 5 2/3 innings, threw a season-high 121 pitches. He has a 4.97 ERA in 14 road starts in 2015.

"I felt my stuff was all right tonight. It was just a matter of, they were taking good pitches and they were hitting pitches that you normally get outs on. I made some really good pitches," Shields said.

Shields exits game

Call benefits Nats: With two outs in the sixth inning, Bryce Harper hit a ground ball for what appeared to be the inning-ending out. However, the umpires ruled the ball was foul, even though replays showed it didn't hit Harper on his foot. The call is not reviewable, and Harper eventually walked. Two batters later, Zimmerman hit his grand slam. More >

Harper's foul ball

QUOTABLE
"That's a terrible call. There's no doubt about it. The ball was two feet in front of him, and Harper's acting like it hit him. Bottom line is, that's a game-changer, we're out of that inning. We've got to be able to get that call right." -- Shields, on the foul ball call in the sixth inning

WHAT'S NEXT
Padres: Tyson Ross (8-9, 3.32 ERA) gets the start in the second game of the series against the Nationals at 4:05 p.m. PT on Wednesday. Ross has a 2.71 ERA in 15 road starts this season. He defeated the Nationals at Petco Park on May 14, allowing two runs in five innings.

Nationals: After shuffling the rotation, Washington will throw lefty Gio Gonzalez (9-6, 3.98 ERA) on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Gonzalez is 5-2 with a 2.98 ERA in 10 home starts this season.

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Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter and listen to his podcast. Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.