Strasburg silences Tribe, improves to 14-1

Strasburg silences Tribe, improves to 14-1

CLEVELAND -- In the aftermath of a second consecutive blown save, the Nationals needed a strong showing from starter Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander delivered, stifling the Indians in a 4-1 win Wednesday afternoon to split the two-game Interleague set at Progressive Field.

Strasburg (14-1) spun seven scoreless frames and allowed just three hits, including two by Jose Ramirez. Strasburg whiffed seven and walked just two, bouncing back from his previous outing, in which he allowed six runs on seven hits.

"I try to do that every time," Strasburg said. "If we're winning, if we're losing, all I can do is what I can on the day that I pitch. It's a long season, so we're just going to keep grinding."

Indians righty Carlos Carrasco (7-4) had a solid showing over six innings of three-run ball, but a few mistakes proved costly. He struggled early, but was able to recover and retire 10 consecutive batters at one point.

Carrasco's quality start

"I thought [Carrasco] had really good stuff," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I think he was a little excited to pitch against Strasburg but it's nice to see if you can match up. I thought he had a little extra and it looked like it."

Daniel Murphy broke the 0-for-10 skid off Carrasco with a solo shot to right to lead off the sixth. Per Statcast™, the ball traveled an estimated 376 feet with an exit velocity of 94 mph. The homer extended Murphy's hitting streak to 13 games, and it also gave him his first 20-homer season.

Murphy's solo dinger

Murphy and Trea Turner -- 3-for-4 with three RBIs -- provided more than enough run support for Strasburg.

Start of a new streak: Nationals manager Dusty Baker has been fond of calling the day Strasburg pitches this season "win day." Washington had lost six of its past eight games, so he tasked Strasburg with stopping that skid. And Strasburg responded with another dominant effort during a season full of them.

"That's his job," Baker said before the game. "They didn't give him all that cash to just be so-so, and he has been earning his money. I don't see why it will be any different today." More >

Strasburg shines in 14th win

Costly mistake: With two on and nobody out in the second, Washington first baseman Ryan Zimmerman rolled a chopper to Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor, who immediately began the double-play attempt. However, Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis fumbled the ball on the exchange and allowed Zimmerman to reach on a fielder's choice. Three batters later, Turner plated two runs on a two-out base knock.

Zimmerman safe on dropped ball

"In the inning where he threw almost 40 pitches," Francona said, "it was a combination of falling behind. We didn't complete the double play. [Ben] Revere had an unbelievable at-bat. There were a lot of combinations that led to 37 pitches. Fortunately he gave up two and no more." More >

Francona on Carrasco in loss

Makeshift ninth: Jonathan Papelbon and Shawn Kelley, the Nationals' primary closer and setup man, were unavailable after their recent heavy workloads -- pitching in four out of five days for Papelbon, while Kelley worked Saturday and Sunday then warmed up and nearly came in Wednesday. As a result, Baker was forced to mix and match to get through the last two innings and used four relievers to record the final six outs.

"We were doing whatever we could to get through that inning," he said.

Blake Treinen came in with two on and facing the tying run in the ninth and induced a double play to seal his first career save.

Treinen induces the double play

"I really haven't thought too much about it," Treinen said. "I'm aware of it, but I'm more excited that we were able to get a much-needed win. All of our guys stepped up big today, and I was just trying to do my part."

Leadoff hitter: Washington has been searching for production from the leadoff spot, and perhaps the club has found it after Turner's performance in the series. He went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and drove in three runs while making all the routine plays in his second career start in center field. Initially, Baker would not commit to playing Turner in the outfield once the team returns to National League parks and loses the designated hitter, but sitting Turner after this kind of production will be tough.

Turner nets three hits in win

"I mean it feels different because he's getting on," Baker said about his lineup with Turner at the top. "And he creates some havoc with his speed. ... He's made his impact felt in a short period of time he's been here."

All alone: Ramirez reached base three times and was left stranded all three times, including twice in scoring position. Ramirez roped a one-out double to right in his first at-bat in the second fame and stole third only to be left stranded. In the fourth, he was left 90 feet away again after a two-out single.

WHAT'S NEXT
Nationals: Washington heads west to continue a three-city, nine-game road trip to match up with the Giants on Thursday at 10:15 p.m. ET. At AT&T Park, Tanner Roark (9-6, 3.05 ERA) will try to rebound after an uncharacteristically short outing his last time out, when he lasted only five innings and surrendered a season-high two home runs.

Indians: Cleveland will have an off-day Thursday before welcoming Oakland for a three-game weekend set at Progressive Field. Right-hander Trevor Bauer (7-4, 3.65 ERA) will take the mound Friday at 7:10 p.m ET. Bauer is coming off a loss to the Orioles, in which he allowed five earned runs on five hits, including a pair of homers.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.

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.