- Associated Press - Saturday, May 27, 2017

Stephen Strasburg downplayed any notion that starting pitchers on the same team attempt to top each other. On the mound one day after Max Scherzer overwhelmed the San Diego Padres, the right-hander did just that.

Strasburg dominated San Diego with a career-high 15 strikeouts while allowing three hits over seven innings as the Washington Nationals beat the Padres 3-0 on Saturday.

Strasburg (6-1) singled and scored Washington’s first run on Bryce Harper’s RBI fielder’s choice grounder in the third inning. Michael A. Taylor hit a two-run homer for the second consecutive game.

San Diego’s lineup offered little resistance against Strasburg the day after Scherzer struck out 13 in Washington’s 5-1 win.

“Piece of cake, huh,?” cracked Chris Speier, who is serving as acting manager with Dusty Baker away this weekend to attend his son Darren’s high school graduation in California.

San Diego had six hits and struck out 31 times — 17 Saturday - in the two losses.

“I know when you have those type of combinations,” Speier said of Strasburg and Scherzer, “they feed off each other. There’s a little competitiveness within the starting pitchers that is very healthy. It’s win-win for us.”

With four pitches working, Strasburg struck out the side in the third and sixth and had at least two in each of the first six innings. His single matched the Padres‘ hit total through five innings.

Strasburg previously struck out 14 batters twice including his Major League debut on June 8, 2010. He set a personal best by setting down Franchy Cordero in the seventh.

“It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game 5, 6 days from now,” said the low-key pitcher. “Maybe I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”

The San Diego native is 6-1 with a 2.93 ERA for his career against his hometown team.

Matt Albers pitched the eighth and Koda Glover the ninth for his fifth save.

Clayton Richard (3-6) followed up his complete-game victory over the Diamondbacks on May 21 by allowing three runs and 10 hits over six innings.

One out after Anthony Rendon’s leadoff single in the sixth, Taylor drove a pitch over the wall in center field for his fourth homer of the season.

“You stay in a one-run game, momentum’s different,” a frustrated Richard stated. “We have a different attitude, it changes a lot of things.”

Washington has won two straight and five of six.

San Diego is 5-13 since May 9.

San Diego loaded the bases with one out in the first following a single, a throwing error by first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and Cory Spangenberg’s four-pitch walk. Strasburg ended the threat by striking out Austin Hedges on three pitches.

The Padres had two singles in the sixth, but Strasburg recorded strikeouts for the final two outs.

“Sometimes with the best pitchers in the game if you don’t get them in the first three innings they get harder and harder to get to,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “We had our chance in the first we didn’t take advantage of it.”

Padres outfielder Manuel Margot was placed on the 10-day DL on Saturday retroactive to May 25 with a strained right calf. San Diego’s primary center fielder left Wednesday’s game with calf soreness and was in a walking boot ahead of Friday’s series opener. Cordero was called up from Triple-A El Paso. The outfielder made his Major League debut by striking out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh.

Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game. Speier said Murphy was dealing with an illness but was available if needed.

Washington entered Saturday tied for the NL lead with nine blown saves. Glover entered the last two games with save opportunities and converted both. Recently moved into the closer role, Glover has pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts since being reinstated from the DL on May 12.

Padres righty Jhoulys Chacin (4-4, 5.74) is 2-4 with a 10.94 ERA in six road starts this season. He’ll go up Sunday against Nationals righty Joe Ross (2-0, 5.32), who allowed one run and five hits over eight innings on May 23 against Seattle for his second victory.


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