WASHINGTON (AP) — Stephen Strasburg's manager praised his curveball. His center fielder liked his inside pitching. And his opposing starter credited his competitive drive.
Whatever the explanation, the Washington Nationals hope to see more performances like this.
Strasburg struck out 10 while pitching three-hit ball for seven innings, earning his first win in a month as the Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-0 Sunday.
"I just felt like I could command both sides of the plate today," said Strasburg, who walked only one.
Strasburg (8-9) had been 0-3 in his previous five starts, losing his last three outings.
Sunday, he never let a runner past second base, reinforcing manager Matt Williams' assertion that he's still the ace on a pitching staff full of worthy candidates.
"Stephen was the guy we went to the first day of the season, he's the guy we went to after the (All-Star) break, and he's proven why he's a really good pitcher," Williams said.
The NL East-leading Nationals split the four-game series after dropping the first two to the last-place Phillies.
Denard Span had two hits, two steals, an RBI and scored a run for Washington while reaching base for the 29th consecutive game.
Afterward, the center fielder gave his take on what makes Strasburg this kind of dominant.
"Today he was hitting his spots inside, and seemed like he had his arm slot pitching inside and just kept those guys guessing," Span said. "Normally, he's just throwing his fastball middle-away, middle-away. And guys were able to kind of cheat to his fastball."
Cole Hamels (6-6) allowed an unearned run over seven innings. The left-hander gave up four hits and struck out six in his second consecutive start without an earned run. He has given up one earned run or fewer in nine of his last 13 starts.
The pair allowed five combined earned runs while dueling to no-decisions in Washington's 5-3 victory over Philadelphia on July 12.
"He and I are just trying to compete at the highest level and put up as many zeroes as we possibly can against each other," Hamels said. "I think it brings the ultimate competition out."
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