Stephen Strasburg really did do a little bit of everything for the Washington Nationals on Saturday night.

Strasburg returned to the starting rotation with a bang, striking out 12 in seven innings and contributing three hits as the Nationals beat the Colorado Rockies 6-1

''It was top-shelf stuff, and his stuff was very crisp tonight, and he was in complete control, really,'' Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. ''You know he is going to be tough to score off of. He looked like an elite guy, like he's been.''

The right-hander had been on the disabled list since a left oblique strain forced him out after 3 2/3 innings against the San Francisco Giants on July 4. He went to the disabled list for the second time this season before being reinstated Saturday. He allowed one run and three hits.

Strasburg said he wants to help the Nationals in their battle for the NL East title and a possible playoff spot and is glad to be back. He's struggled often this season with injuries and other issues but looked like his old self in this game.

''I'm just trying to go out there and do everything I can to help them win some ballgames,'' Strasburg said. ''It's definitely been an up and down year, and it's been a huge learning experience, so I'm excited to have another opportunity. ''

His teammates were impressed.

''He's one of the best in baseball when he's out there doing his thing, painting 98 on the black, reaching 99 sometimes,'' Washington right fielder Bryce Harper said. ''Great curveball, good changeup. He's very good out there.''

Strasburg (6-5) didn't walk a batter and looked sharp from the start against a Colorado team that came into the game leading the National League with a .273 average.

He struck out two each in the second and third innings before striking out the side in the fourth around a solo homer by Nolan Arenado.

Strasburg often combined a high-90's fastball with a nasty curve and changeup to shut down the Rockies (46-62). Charlie Blackmon got the other two hits off Strasburg, both doubles, but even he struck out once.

Strasburg went 3 for 3 at the plate, the first three-hit game of his career, and his first hits of the season. He had been 0 for 16 entering the game.

''Fastball command was there, curveball command was there,'' Nationals manager Matt Williams said. ''I thought he was in command all night. He threw some really good changeups as well to the lefties -- and he hit.''

The victory let the Nationals (57-52) move within 1½ games of the Mets in the NL East as New York's seven-game winning streak ended Saturday night at Tampa Bay

Wilson Ramos gave the Nationals a 2-0 lead with his two-run double to right-center in the second. Ian Desmond made it 3-0 with an RBI single in the third.

Arenado's homer cut the lead to 3-1. Ryan Zimmerman then added an RBI double and single as the Nationals pulled away.

Colorado starter Eddie Butler (3-9) allowed four runs in six innings but walked four Nationals and three of them scored.


This was the 17th time in Strasburg's career he's struck out at least 10. It also was the third time he fanned at least 12 without a walk.


Arenado has a .347 career average at Nationals Park (8 for 23) with three homers and three RBI plus five runs scored.


Nationals: CF Denard Span (back tightness) had what Williams called a ''setback'' in his rehab. Span had hit and done defensive work on the field this week along with some baserunning, but his back wasn't progressing. Williams said Span will probably go to Florida early in the week to continue rehab. ... 2B Dan Uggla was placed on 15-day DL (back spasms) on Saturday.


RHP Max Scherzer (11-8, 2.31) has given up just three runs in the last 13 innings and will start Sunday's series finale, going against LHP Yohan Flande (2-1, 3.54), who is making his third start of the season.