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Stephen Strasburg stays perfect at 13-0 after Washington Nationals' 5-1 win

By
David Driver, The Sports Xchange
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37). Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37). Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg remained unbeaten and drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning as the Washington Nationals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 on Friday night, thanks to several defense breakdowns by the visitors in the key inning.

Strasburg (13-0), who gave up one run and three hits with six strikeouts in eight innings, plated the winning run in the four-run seventh on a strange play.

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With runners on first and third and no outs, Strasburg laid down a nice bunt up the first-base line.

Reliever Neftali Feliz picked up the ball and looked home before throwing to first. Danny Espinosa, who led off with a walk and was on third, took off for home and scored while Strasburg reached first.

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The pitcher was credited with an RBI sacrifice when first baseman David Freese, who was credited with an error, did not touch the bag while his throw to home was too late to retire Espinosa.

The Nationals then made it 3-1 when Clint Robinson scored on a throwing error by catcher Eric Fryer after Robinson had gone to third on a wild pitch. Michael A. Taylor hit a two-run homer later in the inning off Feliz with Strasburg on second to make it 5-1.

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Before the hit, Taylor was batting .146 (6-for-41) with runners in scoring position this season.

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Pirates starter Francisco Liriano (5-9) gave up five hits and three earned run in six innings before Felix took over with two runners on base and no outs in the seventh.

Shawn Kelley pitched the ninth for Washington. Robinson, the No. 8 hitter in the lineup, and Wilson Ramos had two hits for first-place Washington (55-36), which has won seven of its last 11.

The Pirates (46-44) lost for just the third time in 12 games.

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Strasburg did not allow a hit until Starling Marte lined a 97 mph fastball up the middle for a single on a 2-2 count to lead off the fifth. Marte then scored on a two-out single by Jordy Mercer that just cleared the outstretched glove of first baseman Clint Robinson to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead.

The Nationals responded in the last of the fifth as Robinson had an RBI single to tie the game at 1-1. Liriano escaped further damage as he got Trea Turner to ground out with two runners on base to end the inning.

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Strasburg was aided by his defense in the fourth. Espinosa made a fine play in the hole at short to throw out Josh Harrison, then Freese lined out to Taylor in center. Andrew McCutchen grounded out on another strong throw from Espinosa to end the inning.

Strasburg, who entered the game with a 2.62 ERA, was the first National League starter since Rube Marquard in 1912 to start the season 12-0.

Turner made his third start of the year for the Nationals and hit leadoff for the second time. He got the first hit of the game with a clean single to left to leadoff the fourth against Liriano. After a walk to Taylor, Jayson Werth reached on a fielder's choice before Bryce Harper hit into a double play to end the fourth.

In his previous start at home on July 3, Strasburg did not allow a hit in 6 2/3 innings against the Cincinnati Reds before he was pulled after 109 pitches after coming off the disabled list just before the game.

NOTES: Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole (5-4, 2.77 ERA) is slated to come off the disabled list to face Washington RHP Tanner Roark (8-5, 3.01) in the second game of the series Saturday. Washington CF Ben Revere is hitting .583 in his career against Cole, who has had a right triceps strain. ... Washington INF Daniel Murphy was a late scratch from the starting lineup Friday as a first baseman because of general leg soreness, the Nationals said. 1B Clint Robinson made the start instead with rookie 2B Trea Turner also in the lineup. ... There are few Division III college products in the majors, but this series features two of them: Pirates C Erik Kratz and Nationals OF Chris Heisey. Kratz went to Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., and Heisey is a product of Messiah College in Grantham, Penn. Both schools are less than 140 miles from Nationals Park. ... Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg entered Friday with a winning streak of 15 games, with his last lost in September 2015.

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