WASHINGTON -- Even though Stephen Strasburg had built an unbeaten record through his first 17 starts this season and had not suffered a loss since last September, outings like the one Thursday afternoon have left the Nationals encouraged by what the pitcher has become.
Yes, Strasburg's undefeated run came to an end at the hands of a 6-3 Dodgers victory at Nationals Park that dropped him to 13-1; however, manager Dusty Baker said he came away more impressed by Strasburg's ability to battle through the early damage and still turn in a respectable outing.
"I was actually more impressed by Stras today that he didn't blow up," Baker said. "It was extremely hot today, and he kept the game where it was."
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner launched a pair of homers -- a two-run shot in the first and a three-run blast in the third -- to account for most of the damage off Strasburg, who allowed six runs on seven hits.
It was a foreboding few innings that may have spelled a particularly short outing for Strasburg in the past, but he buckled down after Turner's homer. Strasburg retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced, surrendering only a walk to Turner, to complete six innings with 10 strikeouts.
"I told myself at the start of the year ... that I was going to be relentless, regardless of circumstance," Strasburg said. "I'm going to go out there and battle the whole time. Sometimes it might not be pretty, and sometimes it will look pretty good. I'm just going to continue to do that."
Even though his record is no longer spotless, Strasburg is enjoying what has been perhaps his best season in the Majors. He recorded his eighth double-digit strikeout game of the year, the second most in the Majors this season behind only Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw (nine). Even after by far Strasburg's worst outing of the season, and the first time he has allowed six or more runs in a game since May 12, 2015, his ERA sits at 2.83. He is a legitimate National League Cy Young Award candidate.
Strasburg finished with the second-longest winning streak in D.C. baseball history, behind right-hander Firpo Marberry, who won 17 straight between 1930-31. Strasburg became the eighth starting pitcher in baseball history to begin a season at least 13-0 and the first NL pitcher to do so since 1912.
"During that streak, he was outstanding," Baker said. "You know every streak's going to end -- that's the best streak I've ever seen. … So now you just go back to the drawing board and start a new streak."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.