WASHINGTON -- After a one-hour, 40-minute rain delay, right-hander Stephen Strasburg was solid on the mound and helped the Nationals edge the Dodgers, 3-2, at Nationals Park on Wednesday afternoon.
Strasburg got off to a slow start and allowed two runs in the first inning. With runners on first and second and one out, Adrian Gonzalez singled to right field, scoring Carl Crawford. Yasiel Puig followed and singled to left field, sending Hanley Ramirez home.
"I tried to stay to the game plan. I have given up a few hits," Strasburg said. "For the most part, they were ground balls. That's kind of how baseball is sometimes. It's great to see the offense answer back there and give it back to me. It was basically a zero-zero ballgame. I kind of started over after the first."
Strasburg would pitch 7 1/3 innings, allowing the two runs on seven hits. He struck out six batters and walked two.
"He threw well today," catcher Wilson Ramos said. "The first inning, he had a little bit of a struggle, but he made adjustments. The fastball was the key today. He threw a lot of fastballs. Maybe those guys were waiting for the breaking pitch a lot, but we tried to hit them with the fastball."
It looked like Strasburg might complete the second game of his career. Entering the eighth inning, Strasburg threw 106 pitches. In the past, Strasburg would have been out of the game, but manager Matt Williams made it clear that he wants Strasburg to be his workhorse.
"He is our horse," Williams said about Strasburg. "He is a guy that could go 120 [pitches]. I don't want him to do that every time, but in a game like today, he has the lead. I want to show confidence. I'm going to send him back out there to protect that lead. He pitched well."
Right-hander Dan Haren was on the mound for the Dodgers and, at first, he looked like the pitcher who was struggling with the Nationals last year. Washington was able to tie the score by scoring two runs in the bottom of the first.
With runners on second and third, Adam LaRoche hit a ball that hit the top of the right-field wall for a single. Denard Span and Jayson Werth scored on the play.
"I haven't had that much success on that mound," Haren said. "The game started off like my first half of last year. I'm sure the fans were happy with that."
LaRoche couldn't advance to second because he is dealing with a tight right quad. He said the injury is not getting better and he is having a tough time fielding and running the bases. For example, a healthy LaRoche would have likely fielded the single hit by Gonzalez in the first inning.
"[The injury has] been pretty steady for probably the last week," LaRoche said. "We are treating it, doing everything we can. It feels better one day then kind of back to where it felt in the beginning. Just keep nursing it and hope I can pull through it."
It was also the return of Ramos, who missed over a month because of a broken hamate bone in his left hand. He played like he never missed beat, going 1-for 2 with a walk. In his first at-bat off Haren, he doubled to left-center field.
Four innings later, Ramos helped the Nationals take the lead off Haren. With the bases loaded, Ramos hit a sacrifice fly to Puig in right field, scoring Span.
Ramos said he is excited to be back with the team and making a difference.
"I was waiting for this moment for about five weeks," Ramos said. "I'm happy to be here. It's good to be back on the team."
Strasburg is one guy who is happy to have Ramos back behind the dish.
"Not to knock [Jose Lobaton], but having Wilson's bat in the [middle of the lineup] is huge and I always love throwing to him," Strasburg said.
The Nationals improved their record to 19-15.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.