PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Stephen Strasburg toughness stood out for Washington manager Dusty Baker.
With the Nationals' bullpen ailing and struggling, Baker needed a deep outing for Strasburg. And while the pitcher had a leg cramp and failed to reach the seventh inning for the first time this season, Strasburg pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings and hit his second major league home run in a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 on Friday night.
"He wanted it big time," Baker said. "That's the way to gut it out."
Strasburg (3-1) allowed five hits, struck out five and walked four, leaving after 119 pitches. He called out the training staff with one out in the sixth after appearing to tweak his left calf on a pitch to Cameron Rupp, but he remained in the game. Afterward, he said the cause was dehydration and that the injury was nothing serious.
"I want to be out there," Strasburg said. "I'm going to go as hard as I can as long as I can."
Strasburg homered in the second on a 93 mph fastball from Nick Pivetta (0-2) for a 2-0 lead. He had been 0 for 10 at the plate this season and entered with a .151 career average.
"Lucky," Strasburg said. "I had no business swinging at that pitch. I don't know how I connected on it."
Ryan Zimmeman hit his 12th homer, doubled and raised his average to .433 with a three-hit game. Anthony Rendon homered and had three hits, and Jayson Werth also had three hits for the Nationals, who won their third straight and improved the major leagues' best record to 20-9.
Washington played without star slugger Bryce Harper, who strained his left groin a day earlier.
Tommy Joseph and Odubel Herrera had RBI doubles for the Phillies, who have lost four straight and seven of eight. Philadelphia closed in the seventh on RBI doubles by Herrera and Joseph off Blake Treinen.
"We're not pushing enough runs across," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.
Pivetta (0-2), making his second big league start, gave up four runs and nine hits in five innings with six strikeouts and no walks. Selected by the Nationals in the fourth round of the 2013 amateur draft, Pivetta was traded to Philadelphia. He started because Aaron Nola has a back injury.
"He had trouble locating all his pitches," Mackanin said. "When you can't locate, it doesn't matter how hard you throw."
Philadelphia relievers Jake Thompson, Edubray Ramos and Hector Neris combined to allow three hits in four scoreless innings. The Phillies bullpen entered leading the NL with seven blown saves and the majors with 21 homers allowed.
HOW ABOUT MATT?
Matt Albers, pitching in his 461st big league game, picked up his first career save with a perfect ninth that included two strikeouts. The 34-year-old right-hander had been 0 for 22 in save situations.
"It was just nice," said Albers, who kept the game ball. "Now it's just one. It's not moving me up the charts too much."
Zimmerman has a 12-game hitting streak that includes multiple hits in seven of his last eight. He has six three-hit games this season. Zimmerman became the franchise leader in extra-base hits with 596, surpassing Tim Wallach.
Nationals: Harper, who injured his groin making a diving catch on Thursday, is day to day and could return to the lineup this weekend. ... RHP Shawn Kelley (back) was placed on the DL and LHP Matt Grace was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse. ... Baker said he doesn't expect RHP Koda Glover (hip) to be activated on Saturday, when Glover is eligible to return.
Phillies: Nola's MRI showed no setbacks. He is to throw a bullpen session this weekend, and a rehab start will follow next week if all goes well. ... OF Howie Kendrick (oblique) is still a week to 10 days from returning.
Nationals: A.J. Cole makes his season debut or the Nationals in the second game of the three-game series on Saturday night. He is 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA in 11 career starts.
Phillies: RHP Vince Velasquez (2-2, 5.47) takes the mound for Philadelphia. Velasquez has pitched into the seventh inning in just one of his five starts.