The Washington Nationals have thrived in one-run contests during their season-best win streak after struggling at times in those games for much of the rest of this season.
The Nationals didn’t need to sweat one out in Stephen Strasburg’s latest start and he’ll try to build on that dominant effort while leading his team to an eighth consecutive victory Tuesday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Washington (70-53) has earned five wins by one run during its seven-game streak, including each of its last four, after going 13-18 in those contests prior to that run.
Tyler Clippard allowed his first home run in 51 games Monday to David Peralta in the ninth inning, but Adam LaRoche gave his club a 5-4 victory with a two-out solo shot in the 11th, the Nationals’ third walk-off win in as many games.
Washington, which remained six games ahead of Atlanta in the NL East, hasn’t won eight in a row since Aug. 4-11, 2012, and will seek its first seven-game home win streak since May 31-June 18, 2011.
Strasburg (9-10, 3.53 ERA) will attempt to lead the way following Thursday’s 4-1 road win over the New York Mets. He gave up one unearned run, three hits and two walks while striking out eight in seven innings.
Strasburg has 27 strikeouts in 19 innings in three games this month, but allowed seven runs and a career-high four homers over five innings in a 7-6 loss in Atlanta on Aug. 8. The difference in Thursday’s game, the right-hander told MLB’s official website, was his willingness to pitch inside more often and a focus on better command of his fastball.
"We look at Stras as our horse," pitcher Gio Gonzalez said. "He will always be our ace. He has such talent and is willing to learn more."
While he’s 2-8 with a 4.77 ERA in 13 road starts, Strasburg is 7-1 with a 2.20 ERA in his last 12 at home. He’s also 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA in five career starts against Arizona but took a 3-1 road loss in his lone matchup this season May 13, giving up three runs and eight hits in seven innings.
The Diamondbacks (53-72) have lost 11 of 16 this month and 15 of 23 on the road. Ender Inciarte, though, has shined lately with an 18-game hit streak, tied for the fourth longest in the majors this season.
The rookie outfielder, batting .316 during his run, will next try to help give Chase Anderson enough support for a third consecutive winning decision.
Anderson (7-4, 3.16) had allowed two runs or fewer in five straight games before giving up three in six innings Thursday in Miami. He was in line for the win until Brad Ziegler gave up a run in the eighth in a 5-4 loss in 10 innings.
Anderson will make his first start against Washington, and Asdrubal Cabrera is the only Nationals hitter to have faced him, going 0 for 2 with a sacrifice fly. Inciarte has never faced Strasburg and neither has Mark Trumbo, who has reached base in 17 consecutive games and hit safely in 15 of those.