The Nationals have gone 41-23 away from Nationals Park, where they will return Friday with Ian Desmond expected to be in the lineup at shortstop after missing 25 games. They have a better record on the road than any team except for the Cincinnati Reds does playing at home.
“Good teams play just as well on the road as they do at home,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “And we’re a good team.”
Strasburg allowed two runs and struck out seven in six innings, pushing his season total to 173 strikeouts, which led the league until the New York Mets’ R.A. Dickey reached 175 Wednesday night. He walked four batters, two of them coming to lead off the second, the ragged inning in which he yielded his only two runs. He made his other frames look easy, throwing 100 pitches total. He may have five starts remaining, perhaps more and perhaps fewer. His innings count for the year is 1391
3, a number he has pushed out of his mind.
“It’s out of my control,” Strasburg said. “I’m just doing everything I can to help this team win games and it’s all going to take care of itself in the end.”
Wednesday, the Nationals could have won with a lesser pitcher on the mound. Steve Lombardozzi swatted four hits, Danny Espinosa continued his second-half rampage with a booming two-run homer and Jayson Werth drove in three runs. All told, the team lashed 12 hits.
The Nationals tacked on two runs against the Giants’ bullpen, and they needed them after a scary ninth. With two outs in the ninth and a runner on second, closer Tyler Clippard induced a mile-high pop-up from Pablo Sandoval. Adam LaRoche settled under the ball, but the wind toyed with it in the bright sky.
“I got to be totally honest,” LaRoche said. “As confident as I am in my defense, if I got that ball 10 times in those circumstances — not a cloud in the sky, the wind blowing, the ball hit as high as it was — I may catch it about four or five. It was about halfway down. I gave myself a 50-50 chance. I was like, ‘I’m not in a good spot right here.’ ”
The ball grazed LaRoche’s mitt and bounced in the dirt. The game was over, and then it wasn’t. One run scored. Buster Posey, perhaps the hottest hitter in the league, strode to the plate.