atlanta – Stephen Strasburg said he “kind of battled myself” through the most difficult of his five big league starts.
It was too much for the rookie that he also was battling the first-place Atlanta Braves.
The Braves scored four runs in the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals’ star rookie, and Tim Hudson threw seven scoreless innings in a 5-0 victory Monday night.
Strasburg (2-2) said he abandoned his breaking ball too early in the game, leaving his fastball and change-up as his primary pitches.
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“I don’t think I threw as many breaking balls as I have,” he said. “You have to have that up here, because they square up on your fastball.”
Strasburg’s fastball reached 100 mph and he struck out seven, leaving him two shy of matching Herb Score’s record of 50 in his first five starts. Strasburg has two losses and a no-decision after winning his first two starts.
The 21-year-old right-hander had no help from his offense in this one as he gave up six hits and four runs, including three earned, in 6 innings. The Nationals have scored one run in Strasburg’s past three starts.
His previous high for runs allowed was two in his debut, a 5-2 win over Pittsburgh on June 8.
“I understand I’m not going to have lights-out stuff every time,” Strasburg said. “I’m human.”
Braves manager Bobby Cox said the rookie was as impressive as expected.
“He’s as advertised,” Cox said. “He’s dynamite. He’s great. He’s got maybe the best change-up for a first-year player I’ve ever seen.”
Hudson (8-3) gave up only five hits for the National League East-leading Braves, who drew 42,889, their second-largest crowd of the season. The total included 9,601 walk-up sales Monday and 21,608 tickets sold since Strasburg’s previous start Wednesday, according to the Braves.