Major League Baseball

With Dodgers going for sweep, Nats turn to Strasburg

DODGERS (69-37) AT NATIONALS (55-49)
1:35 p.m. ET; MASN, TBS, SNLA, MLB.TV

Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg will try to become the first 14-game winner in the majors when he faces the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers in the finale of their three-game series on Sunday afternoon.

Strasburg (13-4, 3.37 ERA) has won his past six outings and is 10-1 since losing 6-0 to the Dodgers on a combined one-hitter by Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenley Jansen on May 12 at Dodger Stadium.

The Nationals could use a dominant performance after dropping the first two games of the series 4-2 and 9-3.

Strasburg’s last outing against the Dodgers in May was his second straight start in which the offense was kept scoreless. But Washington’s bats have helped him out in a big way lately, combining for 24 runs in his past two appearances.

Strasburg, who came into Saturday ranked 21st in the majors in ERA, provided a big chunk of the offense in a 13-4 win at the Atlanta Braves on July 18, going 3-for-3 with a three-run home run and five RBIs.

He collected another base hit in an 11-1 win at the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday, raising his season average to .152.

“I watch his swing like I do with everyone else, and he gets himself ready,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters heading into Strasburg’s last start. “He gets his hands in a good position to hit. He just tries to hit line drives. That’s all he does, whether he pulls it, whether he hits it the other way. He really tries to stay on top of the ball and hit line drives.

“It’s kind of a nice little compact swing. He gives himself a chance.”

Strasburg will get his next opportunity at the plate against Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler, who’s having a solid season himself.

Buehler (9-1, 3.23) hasn’t lost since May 18, going 5-0 in his past 10 starts with a 2.79 ERA.

After opening the season 4-0, he faced the visiting Nationals on May 11, threw seven shutout innings and departed with a 2-0 lead, but the bullpen gave up five runs in the eighth inning of the 5-2 loss.

Because the Dodgers had off days on Monday and Thursday, Buehler has had a full week off since throwing seven shutout innings in a 9-0 win against the visiting Miami Marlins last Sunday. He struck out 11 and didn’t walk a batter.

“He could essentially do whatever he wanted today,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters afterward.

Strasburg has a 2.67 ERA in 10 career starts against the Dodgers, but his record is just 2-5.

He has pitched well against the left-handed hitters the Dodgers will likely have in their lineup Sunday; Cody Bellinger (2-for-13), Max Muncy (0-for-7), Joc Pederson (1-for-8) and Corey Seager (1-for-9).

Right-handers Justin Turner and A.J. Pollock have hit well off of Strasburg, however.

Turner is 4-for-11 with two home runs and Pollock is 6-for-11 with a double, triple and homer.

–Field Level Media

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