WASHINGTON – After Stephen Strasburg failed to get out of the fifth inning in his second start this season, he had a little chat with Nationals teammate Ian Desmond about changing his approach on the mound.
“It was just: I don’t need to go out there and trick guys, and I don’t need to go out there and be perfect,” Strasburg recalled. “I just got to attack the strike zone, let my stuff work.”
Consider it done. In his third — and by far the best — outing of 2014, Strasburg struck out 12 in 6⅔ innings on a day Washington really needed to rest its relievers, and Desmond and Jayson Werth homered, leading the Nationals past the Miami Marlins 7-1 Thursday for a three-game sweep.
“We actually talked after his last start, and he told me some things that he wanted to work on. And to see him go out and execute it today, exactly the way he wanted to change and what he was going to mess with, was pretty good to see,” said Desmond.
The 25-year-old Strasburg (1-1) got 14 consecutive outs in one stretch and allowed only three hits, including Marcell Ozuna’s homer in the seventh. The right-hander’s lone walk was to the last batter he faced.
Werth hit a two-run blast off Tom Koehler (1-1) to give the Nats the lead in the third.
Pirates 5, Cubs 4
In Chicago, Pedro Alvarez hit a three-run homer to cap a five-run seventh and Jason Grilli retired Emilio Bonifacio on a bases-loaded grounder to end the game, giving Pittsburgh a victory over the Cubs.
Brewers 6, Phillies 2
In Philadelphia, Carlos Gomez had three hits with an RBI and Milwaukee extended its winning streak to six games with a victory over the Phillies.
Mets 6, Braves 4
In Atlanta, Eric Young Jr. got three hits, stole three bases and scored four times and New York overcame Justin Upton’s two home runs to beat the Braves.
D-Backs 6, Giants 5 (10)
In San Francisco, Tony Campana hit an RBI single with two outs in the 10th to lead Arizona to its first back-to-back wins of the season, beating the Giants.
Yankees 4, Red Sox 1
In New York, Michael Pineda (1-1) took a two-hit shutout into the seventh on a day when the dark brown, seemingly tacky substance on the lower palm of his pitching hand quickly became the focus.
The game was never stopped for an umpire to examine him, and it was gone by the fifth.
Pineda said it was merely dirt, rubbed on his sweaty right hand.
Pineda allowed four hits in his first Yankees’ win, struck out seven and walked two.
White Sox 7, Indians 3
In Chicago, rookie Jose Abreu connected for his second multihomer game in three days and the White Sox ended a 14-game losing streak against Cleveland.
Abreu hit tape-measure drives in the second and fifth innings and drove in three runs. The Cuban slugger hit the first two homers of his major league career Tuesday in Colorado.
Astros 6, Blue Jays 4
In Toronto, Robbie Grossman and Jonathan Villar homered off R.A. Dickey and Houston avoided a three-game sweep.
Athletics 6, Twins 1
In Minneapolis, Dan Straily pitched three-hit ball for seven innings and Sam Fuld hit a rare home run to help Oakland complete a three-game sweep over the Twins.