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PHI@WSH: Strasburg dominates for first career shutout

Logic would dictate that eventually, the Nationals' offense will break through against the Braves' pitching staff.

Washington will continue to search for such a performance on Saturday night, when the division rivals meet for the second of a three-game series at Turner Field. They opened the set on Friday, with the Braves continuing their season-long dominance of the Nationals in a 3-2 victory that came on Justin Upton's 10th-inning walk-off homer.

Atlanta, which has won 18 of 20 overall, has taken 11 of 14 against Washington this season and done so without surrendering more than four runs in any game. The Nats haven't pushed across more than three runs against the Braves since their first meeting of the year.

Perhaps nobody is more familiar with those struggles than Stephen Strasburg, who will take on Mike Minor as he makes his fifth start of the season against Atlanta. In the first four, Strasburg posted a 2.14 ERA, with 26 strikeouts in 21 innings, but went 0-1.

Strasburg and Minor also faced off during the teams' previous series, a three-game Braves sweep at Nationals Park last week. Neither pitcher received a decision, with Minor giving up two runs over six innings and Strasburg allowing two over seven.

In his next start, Strasburg (6-9, 2.83 ERA) delivered his first career complete game and shutout, holding the Phillies to four hits and one walk while striking out 10. He tweaked his groin in the second inning but shook it off to author a dominant performance.

"I felt good," Strasburg said. "It's something you try to do every time out. I learned how to go out there and get outs with less pitches. ... I knew it was going to be a matter of time where I was going to have one of these games where they hit it right to where we were playing and the defense made great plays."

Minor (12-5, 2.87 ERA) will look to hand the Nationals their third consecutive loss following a five-game winning streak. The left-hander has a 2.23 ERA over his past seven starts, although he gave up four runs over seven innings against the Marlins on Sunday.

"I feel like I threw a lot better than the numbers showed," he said. "They battled, they had some good hits there, scored some runs early, had the big inning with three runs. But I felt a lot better than I did with the Nationals, it was just a different outcome."

Nationals: Storen returns strong
• Manager Davey Johnson dropped Drew Storen into a pressure-packed situation for his first appearance since coming back from Triple-A Syracuse.

The struggling right-hander had been optioned to the Minors on July 26 but returned on Thursday and made his first appearance in Friday's ninth inning. Entering a tie game, the former closer gave up a single but pitched an otherwise clean frame and struck out two.

Storen had a 13.03 ERA in July and a 5.95 mark for the season when he was sent down to work on his mechanics and regain some confidence.

• Catcher Wilson Ramos returned to the lineup on Friday after missing two games with a hamstring injury. He went 1-for-4 before coming out for a pinch-runner.

Braves: Digging into depth at 2B
• Atlanta's depth chart at second base has taken a significant hit this week. Dan Uggla was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Monday to have LASIK eye surgery, and his replacement, Tyler Pastornicky, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Wednesday, necessitating season-ending surgery.

Philip Gosselin was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday to back up Paul Janish, who is likely to receive the bulk of the playing time until Uggla returns or the Braves acquire a replacement off waivers. Janish, a defensive specialist, went 1-for-3 on Friday and is 2-for-15 this season.

• With his save on Wednesday night, closer Craig Kimbrel converted his 28th consecutive opportunity to pass John Smoltz for the longest streak in team history. Kimbrel hasn't blown a save since May 7 and already has joined Smoltz as the only Braves to notch three straight seasons of at least 30 saves.

Worth noting
• Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth has notched three consecutive multihit games and six over his past eight contests.

• With Atlanta's B.J. Upton 0-for-15 over his past five games, Jordan Schafer got the start in center field on Friday. Comments