|USA Today Sports Images|
Hitting lowlight: When they make the commemorative DVD of this season, they might just want to show every Nationals at-bat from this game. It pretty much summed up the entire year for this lineup. They put the leadoff man on base in seven of nine innings, a promising sign. Except only once did that runner end up scoring, in the bottom of the sixth on Anthony Rendon's sacrifice fly. The Nats went 1-for-10 with men in scoring position, continuing yet another disturbing trend and leaving the crowd of 33,002 exasperated, never more so than in the bottom of the seventh, when Scott Hairston's leadoff double was wasted by Jayson Werth's strikeout, Bryce Harper's (admittedly smoked) lineout to right and Ian Desmond's dribbler in front of the plate.
Pitching highlight: Perhaps sensing the significance of this game, Strasburg seemed to take the mound with an extra sense of purpose tonight. He struck out the side in the top of the first, hopped off the mound several times when he thought he had a third strike and dialed up his fastball to 98 mph. Strasburg wasn't perfect, especially in the top of the fifth, when he paid no attention to Upton and let him steal second base without his catcher or middle infielders so much as moving a muscle. That proved costly when Freddie Freeman followed with an RBI single up the middle, giving the Braves the lead. But continuing a recent trend, Strasburg finished strong, retiring the last six batters he faced on 18 total pitches and end the night with nine strikeouts.
Key stat: Strasburg has now surpassed the 110-pitch mark 12 times in his career, 10 of those starts coming this season.
Up next: The series continues at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday when the recently exonerated Gio Gonzalez takes the mound, trying to put the bad memories of last week's thrashing in Detroit behind him. Right-hander Julio Teheran gets the start for Atlanta.