Stephen Strasburg picked up his 15th win as the Nationals increased their lead in the NL East to seven games over the Braves. (Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE)

Strasburg Leads Nationals to 4-1 Win, Increase Lead in NL East


The Washington Nationals continue to dominate baseball, and they padded their lead in the NL East tonight with a 4-1 win over the Atlanta Braves behind Stephen Strasburg.

Like last night, the Nationals jumped out to an early lead and stood fast behind solid pitching. Only this time Stephen Strasburg never gave up his lead on the way to his 15th win of the season. He struck out 10, a mark that’s just 4 shy of his career high that he set during his debut appearance back in 2010. The win helped the Nationals increase their lead over the Braves in the East to seven full games.

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W: S. Strasburg(15-5)

L: P. Maholm (11-8)

S: t. Clippard (28)

As for Atlanta, the fall from the top continues in painful fashion. Starter Paul Maholm went seven full innings and struck out six but he allowed four earned runs — a score that his offense could bail him out of.

There was a 51-minute rain delay that helped factor into the win for Washington. Strasburg emerged from the delay fresh as before, while Maholm allowed three runs just an inning after the delay ended.

The story that will come out of this game though, will revolve around Strasburg and his inning limit. As of tonight, the Washington star has pitched 145 1/3 innings but still managed to win his fourth straight game. Washington would like it if the talk tomorrow is of the Nationals countdown to clinch the East, but instead anytime Strasburg takes the mound, the talk will be of the controversial inning limit.

While Strasburg is winning his fourth straight, the Braves are losing their fourth straight. It’s a skid that no one in Atlanta is happy about, and the pain is intensified by the fact the Nationals are the team burying the Braves.

Atlanta needs to stop concerning themselves with Washington and need to begin to worry about their positioning in the NL Wild Card standings. Atlanta continues to lose ground in the Wild Card race as the Pittsburgh Pirates sit just three games behind them and the Los Angeles Dodgers (or whoever is in second place in the topsy-turvy NL West) are just three-and-a-half games back.

The Braves and Nationals finish their series tomorrow night before going their separate ways. Washington will hit the road and head to St. Louis and Miami while Atlanta continues their road trip and heads out west to face the San Francisco Giants. The Nationals can help the Braves out by beating the Cardinals in their series, as St. Louis sits just four games back of Atlanta.

Atlanta needs to concern themselves with their series with the Giants, as San Francisco could potentially gain serious ground on the Braves in the Wild Card standings with a sweep, should San Francisco fall to second in the NL West.

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Tags: MLB Washington Nationals