Adam LaRoche hit a two-run homer to back the longest outing of Stephen Strasburg's young career, as the Washington Nationals took down the San Diego Padres, 6-2, in the opener of a four-game series.
Strasburg (2-5) gave up two runs -- one earned -- on three hits while striking out four and walking three over eight innings. The right-hander came into Thursday's contest with a 0-5 record and 3.61 ERA in his previous seven starts.
"I didn't think he was as sharp as he usually is, but it was a good ballgame," Nats manager Davey Johnson said of Strasburg. "It was nice to see some offense coming up to give him some run support."
Bryce Harper hit a solo homer in his return after being held out of the starting lineup the past two games following his fierce collision with the right field fence on Monday.
San Diego starter Edinson Volquez (3-4) allowed five runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking four over five innings.
Everth Cabrera and Chris Denorfia each knocked in a run for the Padres, who had won two in a row. The right-hander came into Thursday's contest with a 3-0 mark and 2.59 ERA over his previous five starts.
Washington's first hit of the game came in the fourth. After Ryan Zimmerman worked a one-out walk, LaRoche cleared the wall in right.
The Nationals tacked on three more runs in the fifth. Kurt Suzuki singled, stole second, moved to third on Denard Span's base hit and raced home on Steve Lombardozzi's bloop single to center. Two batters later, Zimmerman hit an RBI single to right-center field for a 5-0 lead.
San Diego got one run back in the bottom half. Jedd Gyorko doubled and Alexi Amarista walked to start things. Two batters later, pinch-hitter Kyle Blanks reached base on a fielder's choice. Zimmerman's throwing error on the play loaded the bases. Cabrera grounded out to plate a run before Will Venable struck out swinging.
The Padres put another run on the board in the sixth. Chase Headley doubled, moved to third on Yonder Alonso's groundout and scored on Denorfia's sacrifice fly.
"The difference was the fourth and fifth innings for them and us maybe not getting the big hit when we had the bases loaded with one out to get a little closer to put a little pressure on the Nationals," Padres manager Bud Black said.
Harper homered in the seventh to account for the final margin.
San Diego lost three of five matchups with Washington last season ... Washington placed catcher Wilson Ramos on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain. To fill the roster spot, the Nationals recalled catcher Jhonatan Solano from Triple-A Syracuse ... The Nationals have hit at least one home run in 70 consecutive series ... The Padres went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded six ... Headley improved his home hitting streak to 10 games with his single in the first inning.