ATLANTA — Stephen Strasburg’s fifth big league start was by far his most difficult.
The Atlanta Braves scored four runs in the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals’ star rookie, and Tim Hudson threw seven scoreless innings in a 5-0 victory Monday night.
Strasburg (2-2) had no help from his offense in this one as he gave up six hits and four runs, including three earned, in 6-1/3 innings. The Nationals have scored one run in Strasburg’s past three starts.
His previous high for runs allowed was two in his debut, a 5-2 win over Pittsburgh on June 8.
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He struck out seven, leaving him two shy of matching Herb Score’s record of 50 in his first five starts. Strasburg has two losses and a no-decision after winning his first two starts.
Hudson (8-3) gave up only five hits for the NL East-leading Braves, who drew 42,889, their second-largest crowd of the season. The total included 9,601 walk-up sales Monday and 21,608 tickets sold since Strasburg’s previous start Wednesday, according to the Braves.
Strasburg, wearing a goatee and high socks, struck out only one of Atlanta’s first 12 batters but six of the next seven, including five straight in the fifth and sixth innings.
The Nationals, who have lost five straight, couldn’t take advantage of a scoring chance in the seventh against Hudson. Roger Bernadina hit a double to left and moved to third on Ian Desmond’s sacrifice. Hudson struck out Alberto Gonzalez and ended the inning on Strasburg’s groundout.
The Braves then broke through in the bottom of the inning.
Strasburg walked Chipper Jones on four pitches to open the seventh. Brian McCann followed with a single and Desmond bobbled a grounder by Troy Glaus for an error to load the bases. Jones scored on Eric Hinske’s flyball to center. Yunel Escobar knocked Strasburg out of the game with a sharply hit single to left, driving in McCann for a 2-0 lead.
Gregor Blanco reached on a run-scoring bunt single that Strasburg’s replacement, Sean Burnett, couldn’t handle. Pinch-hitter Omar Infante added another infield hit, this time off third baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s glove, to drive in Escobar, and Martin Prado’s fly ball to right field drove in Blanco.
When speaking about Strasburg before the game, Braves manager Bobby Cox said jokingly, “I don’t know if we can get a bunt down off this guy.”
Cox, speaking of Hudson, added “You’ve got to remember we’ve got a good guy going, too.”
The Braves threatened early against Strasburg. Melky Cabrera doubled to left in the first inning and was thrown out at the plate on McCann’s single by left fielder Josh Willingham.
The Braves had two baserunners again in the second. Glaus walked — the first walk allowed by Strasburg in three games — and advanced to second on Escobar’s single. Blanco hit into a double play to end the inning.