In one of the better pitching matchups of the year, Brandon Beachy and Stephen Strasburg had a true pitchers' duel at Nationals Park, but the Washington Nationals shut down the Atlanta Braves to take the series opener 2-0 on Saturday.
Beachy was charged with two earned runs over 6 1/3 inning, lifting his Major League-leading ERA to 1.87. The only real mistake he made was when he left a 1-2 fastball up in the zone to Jesus Flores in the fifth inning, resulting in Flores' second homer of the season to lead off the frame.
"It wasn't supposed to be elevated or over the plate," Beachy said. "That's what happens when you miss."
For the most part, however, Beachy kept the Nationals' offense at bay with six strikeouts. Though he walked four – including two to Bryce Harper for a total of 19 pitches to him alone – Beachy only allowed three hits. He was yanked in favor of Chad Durbin when he walked Danny Espinosa on his 115th pitch.
Strasburg, on the other hand, struck out nine Braves batters over seven innings while walking none.
The closest Atlanta got to a threat was when Jose Constanza doubled with two outs in the third, which Michael Bourn followed with a lined single to advance Constanza to third. Martin Prado would pop out to end the inning.
Twice more, in the fifth and seventh innings, Strasburg allowed lead-off singles, but immediately followed by inducing double plays.
Durbin walked the only batter he faced after coming in for Beachy, resulting in Fredi Gonzalez putting in Jonny Venters. Venters and Brian McCann got crossed up on a pitch call, and McCann took a 94 mile-per-hour fastball to the left knee. He would leave the game and is day-to-day.
Venters continued with his tumultuous year when he gave up an RBI-double to Xavier Nady to allow an important insurance run to score, though it was charged to Beachy.
Now three games behind the Nationals, the Braves will rely on Tommy Hanson (5-4) to salvage a series split against the red hot Gio Gonzalez (7-1).
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