- - Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Nationals manager Dave Martinez said there is no secret to the success Stephen Strasburg has against the Miami Marlins.

That dominance continued Wednesday night, as the right-hander won his 11th straight decision against the Marlins with a 3-1 victory at Nationals Park. Strasburg went 71/3 scoreless innings and allowed just two hits with a season-high 14 strikeouts to defeat Miami for the 20th time in his career.

For the first time in his career, Strasburg (10-4) struck out the side on just nine pitches — in the fourth inning. He set down Garrett Cooper, Neil Walker, and Starlin Castro to become just the third Nationals pitcher to record an immaculate inning.

“(Strasburg) goes out there and pitches to his strength,” Martinez said. “When he is on he is really good. If you go down (in the count) to two strikes and fall behind he gets nasty.

“The book on Strasburg is to try and get to him early in the count.”

The Marlins were not able to do that Wednesday before a pre-holiday crowd of 25,483 fans.

Reliever Fernando Rodney came on for Strasburg with one out and two on the eighth and eventually induced a double-play grounder by Harold Ramirez to end the inning. Closer Sean Doolittle pitched the ninth for his 19th save despite hitting a batter with the bases loaded to force in a run.

Nationals second baseman Brian Dozier blasted a two-run homer in the sixth over the bullpen in left for a 2-0 lead against Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara (4-8). Matt Adams added an insurance run with a homer off Wei-Yin Chen in the eighth to make it 3-0.

It was the 17th game in a row that the Nationals went deep to set a Montreal/Washington franchise record.

The Nationals (44-41) have now won seven of their last eight and are 25-10 since May 24 — the best mark in the majors over that time. Washington began Wednesday six games back of first-place Atlanta in the National League East.

Before the game, the Nationals announced that ace pitcher Max Scherzer would go on paternity leave as his wife, Erica, expects their second child this week.

But the veteran pitcher is slated to start at home Saturday against the Kansas City Royals, according to Martinez.

The three-game series with the last-place Marlins (32-52) ends with an 11:05 a.m. start time on Thursday in the annual July 4 game. The starting pitcher for Washington will be Anibal Sanchez, who is 4-6.

“It is the earliest game I have ever pitched in the major leagues,” Sanchez said.

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