ATLANTA (AP) – Stephen Strasburg had a three-run homer among his three hits and set a franchise-record for a pitcher with five RBIs, as the surging Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 13-4 on Thursday night.
Washington had four extra-base hits, including Strasburg’s homer, in an eight-run third inning. Victor Robles had a two-run double, Adam Eaton tripled in a run and Anthony Rendon had a run-scoring double in the big inning.
The Nationals, who have won 14 of their last 18 games, cut Atlanta’s lead to 5 1/2 games in the NL East by winning the opener of a four-game series.
Strasburg (12-4) improved to 3-0 against Atlanta this season by winning his fifth straight start. He lasted only 5 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits and three runs. His effort on the mound was overshadowed by his career highs in hits and RBIs.
Strasburg is the first Nationals pitcher to drive in five runs in a game. He is also the first Nationals pitcher to have two hits in one inning.
Strasburg led off the third with a single to center. After the Nationals knocked rookie right-hander Kyle Wright (0-3) out of the game in the long inning, Strasburg hit Touki Toussaint’s second pitch 420 feet over the Washington bullpen behind the left-field wall for a three-run homer and an 8-1 lead. Strasburg celebrated by dancing with his teammates in the dugout.
Strasburg’s big night at the plate continued when he hit a two-run single off Toussaint in the fifth, driving in Brian Dozier, who walked, and Robles, who hit his second double of the game.
All the time spent running the bases may have drained Strasburg. He was pulled in the sixth after giving up a run-scoring triple to Ozzie Albies and Brian McCann’s RBI single.
Nick Markakis hit a line-drive homer off right-hander Kyle McGowin in the eighth. The opposite-field shot barely cleared the left-field wall.
Wright allowed seven runs and seven hits with three walks – all in the third inning – in 2 2/3 innings. Wright, who opened the season with Atlanta before being sent to the minors following three starts, was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett before the game.
Utility infielder Charlie Culberson made his second pitching appearance of the season with a scoreless ninth.
The Braves also reinstated outfielder Ender Inciarte from the 10-day injured list. Inciarte, who had been out since May 15 with a lumbar strain, did not have a hit as he started in center field with Ronald Acuña Jr. moving to left field.
Inciarte, a three-time Gold Glove winner, isn’t returning to a regular job, however, as rookie Austin Riley has taken over in left field.
“Just filling in,” said manager Brian Snitker when asked about Inciarte’s role. “I’m not going to feel like I’m forced to get him in.”
Atlanta optioned right-handers Bryse Wilson and Huascar Ynoa to Gwinnett.
Rendon had three hits, including two doubles, and a walk.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (mid-back strain) played catch but did not throw in the bullpen as expected and may not start on Sunday.
Braves: RHP Kevin Gausman (right shoulder tendinitis) is on track to come off the IL and start on Sunday after throwing on Thursday. “Talking to him, he feels really good where he’s at right now,” Snitker said.
Nationals: LHP Patrick Corbin (7-5, 3.39) will face the Braves for the first time this season on Friday night.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (5-6, 3.71 ERA) is 6-6 with a 4.13 ERA in 21 career starts against Washington, including 0-2 with a 6.57 ERA in 2018. Teheran had been scheduled to start on Thursday night, but the start was pushed back when Wright was recalled.
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