- 142 wins
- 110 wins
TORONTO -- Looking for their second consecutive sweep of an American League East foe, there was no better recipe for the Nationals than to send their ace, Stephen Strasburg, to the hill for Wednesday's series finale in Toronto.
As usual, the electric flamethrower didn't disappoint, and Tyler Moore had an enormous day to back him, which included his first two Major League homers, to help extend Washington's winning streak to six games with a 6-2 win over the Blue Jays in front of 41,667 at Rogers Centre.
"It was a no-brainer to put him in there, we all like his bat potential," manager Davey Johnson said of the rookie Moore, who was filling in at first base for an injured Adam LaRoche. "What a day he had. These young players are playing great and carrying us."
Moore's career day at the plate began in his first at-bat. He smoked a two-run double to center in the second inning -- for his first career RBIs -- off Blue Jays starter Kyle Drabek that gave the Nationals and Strasburg an early 2-0 lead.
In his next at-bat, Moore took Drabek deep for his first career home run, a two-run shot to put the Nationals ahead, 4-2.
Moore's memorable day wasn't done yet.
The 25-year-old blasted his second home run off Blue Jays reliever Aaron Laffey to put Washington ahead, 5- 2, and became the first Nationals player this season with a multihomer game.
"It was great, finally I found the barrel," said Moore, who finished the day 3-for-4 with five RBIs. "I'm glad to help this team out. I thanked him [LaRoche] for sitting out today."
Moore is up with the Nationals for the second time this season and says he's feeling much more comfortable at the plate, and having much better at-bats, than in his first stint. The key for him, according to Johnson, was to come back up and be more aggressive, something that was quite evident Wednesday.
Moore, whose five RBIs were the most by a Nationals player this year, provided Strasburg with all the offense he needed to improve to 8-1 on the season.
Strasburg, 23, showed no ill effects after coming off a start in which he threw a career-high 119 pitches until he was forced to leave the game after six innings and 89 pitches because of a cut on the nail of his right middle finger. The cut is not considered to be something that will prevent Strasburg from missing his next start.
Minus a two-run homer to left by Jose Bautista, his 19th of the year, in the third inning, the Blue Jays were completely overmatched by Strasburg. He allowed five hits, walked one and threw 62 of his 89 pitches for strikes -- dialing his fastball up to 97 mph, coupled with an 89-mph changeup and topped off with a curveball that at times made Toronto's hitters look uncomfortable at the plate.
His eight strikeouts allowed him to become the first Major League pitcher to reach 100 K's this season.
"Once I started to get my curveball over for a strike, it really changed the ballgame," said Strasburg, who has won his last five decisions and sports a 2.45 ERA.
Johnson didn't want to risk leaving Strasburg out there, but he was thoroughly impressed with the six innings of work he put in.
"He's not just a hard thrower, he has a great curveball and a great changeup," Johnson said. "It's not an easy picnic up there. I thought at the beginning of the game, he used his offspeed too much. ... I like him to use his fastball more early, but he likes using his breaking stuff more early to get a better feel for it."
Strasburg's victory matched Gio Gonzalez's team-leading win total of eight, and the two are the first pair of National League teammates to reach that mark this season.
Ian Desmond added a solo homer, his ninth of the year, off Laffey in the eighth inning to put the Nationals ahead, 6-2. The homer marked the eighth the Nationals hit in the three-game set.
Drabek was forced to leave the game with one out in the fifth inning after feeling a popping sensation in his throwing elbow and will be reevaluated after passing the Blue Jays medical staff's first series of tests.
The Nationals ended their road trip at 6-0 -- the most successful trip the club has had on the road since relocating to Washington. It was the fourth time this season that the Nationals have swept an opponent.
"I said ... if we play up to our potential, and the young guys do things I know they're capable of doing, we can contend and win the pennant," Johnson said about his club, which held a 4 1/2-game lead over the second-place Braves entering Wednesday night's contests. "We started a little bit slow, we are starting to pick up. We knew we could do it, we are no longer a secret to anybody. We are a pretty good ballclub, and not just pitching."
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.