Stephen Strasburg hit his first career home run in the major leagues as the Washington Nationals salvaged the final game of their series against the Baltimore Orioles, 9-3 Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park.
With the win, Washington snapped a three-game losing streak and avoided a demoralizing home sweep at the hands of their American league neighbors.
Strasburg's homer was the second of two back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the fourth inning that gave Washington a 5-3 lead. After Jesus Flores had homered to right-center field to break a 3-3 tie, Strasburg put an 0-2 pitch from Wei-Yin Chen into the Baltimore bullpen in left-center field to make the score 5-3.
Strasburg's day had begun badly, as Baltimore scored three runs in the first two innings, helped by an ugly error in center field by Bryce Harper. With Washington already trailing 1-0 on an RBI single by Nick Markakis, Wilson Betemit led off the second with what should have been an easy fly ball to left fielder Tyler Moore. However, Harper called off his fellow rookie, only to completely miss the ball. Betemit came around to score on a groundout by Robert Andino, and the Orioles made it 3-0 on an RBI single by Xavier Avery.
Harper atoned for his mistake in the bottom of the third, as he tripled to deep right to drive in two runs and cut Washington's deficit to 3-2. Harper later scored the tying run as Ian Desmond beat out a potential double play.
Apart from his home run, Strasburg retired the final 10 batters he faced. His final line was 5 innings pitched, 4 hits, 3 runs, 1 earned run allowed, 1 walk, and 8 strikeouts.
Desmond drove in another run in the fifth as his single made the score 6-3. The Nats put the game away in the bottom of the eighth inning with three runs, two of which came on a home run by Danny Espinosa.