Pittsburgh, PA – Stephen Strasburg burst onto the major league scene with a seven-inning, 14-strikeout debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 8, 2010.
He nearly duplicated that performance in Thursday's series finale against the Bucs at PNC Park.
Strasburg (3-0) racked up 13 strikeouts over six innings while giving up two runs -- one earned -- on five hits and three walks in a 4-2 victory for Washington, which snapped a three-game skid and helped it avoid being swept by the Pirates for the first time since the franchise relocated from Montreal.
"That ball comes out of his hand so quick," said Boston manager Davey Johnson about Strasburg. "He also got a good changeup and good curveball so he's got some nasty stuff out there."
Ryan Mattheus and Tyler Clippard tossed scoreless seventh and eighth innings, respectively, and Henry Rodriguez worked around an error in the ninth to nail down his seventh save of the season.
Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina hit solo homers and Adam LaRoche added a two-run shot for the top club in the NL East.
Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker had RBI base hits for the Pirates, who had a two-game winning streak snapped.
Kevin Correia (1-3) gave up three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out one over seven frames in defeat.
Trailing 2-0 after five innings, Washington used a pair of longballs in the sixth to take a 3-2 lead.
Bernadina led off by crushing a fastball from Correia into the Nats' bullpen. After Ryan Zimmerman drew a walk, LaRoche followed by hammering another Correia offering over the wall in left-center field.
"We had a 3-1 count and we didn't want to walk Bernadina and he just left a fastball out over the plate and the guy hit it out to the biggest part of the ballpark," remarked Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "And then it was an 0-1 cutter to LaRoche and it just spun; he missed his spot."
Pittsburgh threatened with a two-out rally in the home half. After Jose Tabata grounded out and Alex Presley struck out, McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez and Walker drew consecutive walks to load the bases. Strasburg remained unfazed by his loss of command, and struck out Garrett Jones to end the inning.
After Danny Espinosa grounded out to start the Washington ninth, Ankiel gave the Nats some insurance when he crushed the first pitch he saw from Chris Resop, sending a hanging slider into the right-field stands to make it a two- run game.
In the home ninth, Walker reached on a dropped third strike with one out. After Jones flied out, Walker advanced to second on defensive indifference, but was stranded there as Rodriguez got pinch-hitter Casey McGehee to ground out to end the game.
The Pirates broke a scoreless deadlock with a pair of runs in the fourth.
Tabata started the rally with a single up the middle and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Presley. McCutchen followed with a line single into right to bring home Tabata, and Walker came through with an RBI base hit two batters later to plate McCutchen.
Retired Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward took batting practice and threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Thursday's game...The Pirates last swept the Expos/Nationals franchise May 14-16, 1999 at Three Rivers Stadium...Washington snapped a six-game road losing streak...Earlier on Thursday, Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan was placed on the bereavement list and pitcher Daniel McCutchen was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis.