WASHINGTON (AP) - After Stephen Strasburg left the game, the Los Angeles Dodgers had quite a time.
In his first major league start since undergoing Tommy John surgery, Strasburg allowed two hits over five shutout innings Tuesday night, but the Dodgers rallied against the Washington Nationals in Los Angeles' 7-3 win.
The 2009 overall No. 1 draft pick again displayed the blurry fastball and the fooled-again changeup that wowed the baseball world last year during his rookie season. Those magical days of ``Strasmas' came to an abrupt end when his elbow popped on Aug. 21 in Philadelphia, and his long road back began when he had the now-familiar, career-saving ligament replacement surgery last Sept. 3.
The Dodgers managed just a leadoff double by Dee Gordon in the first and a single in the fourth by Juan Rivera off Strasburg.
After Strasburg left with a 3-0 lead, Andre Ethier had four RBIs on a two-run single in the sixth that tied the score at 3 and a two-run double in the ninth. Rod Barajas gave Los Angeles a 5-3 lead in the eighth on a two-run double off Henry Rodriguez (3-3).
Strasburg departed after throwing 56 pitches - 40 for strikes.
``A sigh of relief when you get a guy who's cruising in the game out because of a pitch count,' Ethier said.
None of the Dodgers had faced the 23-year-old and most were suitably impressed.
``He definitely lives up to the hype,' Ethier said.
Strasburg struck out four - Ethier fanned twice against him.
Kelly Jansen (2-1), the Dodgers fourth pitcher, worked a scoreless seventh for the win.
Los Angeles pitchers set a season high by striking out 17 Nationals - nine by starter Ted Lilly - who allowed three runs - two earned - in five innings.
Lilly had the longest at-bat against Strasburg - six pitches - before grounding out to second against him in the sixth.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was impressed with Strasburg, but not his team's approach.
``I thought we were a little anxious - a little jacked up,' Mattingly said. ``This kid's got a good arm, but you see good arms all the time.'
The Dodgers have won seven of nine. They're three games under .500 - the closest they've been to the break even-point since May 14.
``It took us a little bit long to do it,' Ethier said.
Lilly was attempting to win his 10th game for the ninth consecutive season. He also left after five innings, and his teammates bailed him out.
The 35-year-old has been pitching in the majors since 1999 - when Strasburg was 11. Even though he's watched countless excellent pitchers work, he didn't enjoy what he saw of Strasburg.
``Not really - because we didn't score any runs off him,' Lilly said. ``I'd rather watch him when we're banging a bunch of balls against the wall. That would be something I'd prefer.'
With a sly smile, Lilly had a recommendation for Washington.
``He's someone that the Nationals should probably trade to us if they knew what was best for us. Maybe things will work for him over here,' Lilly said.
NOTES: The game was delayed by rain for 31 minutes in the seventh inning. ... Gordon tied a season-high with three hits. ... Lilly tied a season-high with nine strikeouts. ... Strasburg was activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game. ... The Dodgers recalled C Tim Federowicz, RHP John Ely and INF-OF Jerry Sands from Triple-A Albuquerque. ... Los Angeles 3B Casey Blake underwent season-ending surgery to repair a pinched nerve in his neck. ... RHP Chien-Ming Wang (2-3) will start for Washington on Wednesday against LHP Dana Eveland (1-0). Eveland is 0-1 with a 7.94 ERA in two games against Washington.
The Associated Press News Service
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