Stephen Strasburg dazzles in Nationals debut

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Stephen Strasburg lived up to his billing in a much-anticipated major league debut with the Washington Nationals on Tuesday as the 2009 top draft pick struck out 14 batters to help his team to a 5-2 victory.

In one of the most talked about Major League Baseball debuts in years, the 21-year-old right-hander retired nine of the first 10 Pittsburgh batters he faced in front of a standing room-only crowd at Nationals Park.

Strasburg, who mixes a high-velocity fastball with good off-speed pitches, allowed just four hits and did not walk a Pittsburgh batter. He also struck out the final seven batters he faced before being taken out of the game.

"I definitely wasn't nervous," Strasburg told reporters after the game. "(My teammates) just kept telling me to soak it all in, good or bad - you only get one debut."

Strasburg's debut had been anticipated ever since he was taken with the top pick in the 2009 first-year player draft. The 6-foot-4 Strasburg had a 7-2 record and a 1.30 ERA in the minors before being promoted to the Nationals.

His arrival in Washington follows a season where the Nationals had the worst record in baseball with 103 losses.

"It was just a great night for Stephen - a great night for the Nationals," said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman. "When you see guys like this come along, it's really special. Hopefully, we can keep him healthy and keep it going."

(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)