WASHINGTON – On many occasions when the Washington Nationals have a one-run advantage going into the eighth inning, Tyler Clippard is called from the bullpen to protect that lead.
But on Wednesday manager Matt Williams allowed starter Stephen Strasburg to go back out for the eighth and he got one out before the bullpen got the final five outs in a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I think he is as good as anyone on any given day," Williams said of Strasburg. "He wants to pitch. We want the ball in his hand. We are not afraid to throw him back out there."
Catcher Wilson Ramos, who came off the disabled list before the game, broke a 2-2 tie with a sacrifice fly in the fifth to give the Nationals a 3-2 lead.
The go-ahead run was scored by center fielder Denard Span, who led off with a single and went to third on a single by right fielder Jayson Werth. A sacrifice fly to right field by Ramos came against former batterymate Dan Haren (4-1), who was 10-14 last season for the Nationals.
"After that (first inning) he was fine," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Haren. "A lot like their guy (Strasburg), after the first inning they settle in and compete."
Strasburg (3-2) allowed two earned runs in 7 1/3 innings and fanned six while throwing a season-high 114 pitches. He threw just 83 pitches in his last start at Philadelphia on May 1.
"I definitely felt good. The fastball was doing really well," said Strasburg, who lowered his ERA to 3.42.
The Washington starter was glad to see Ramos back behind the plate after he was injured on Opening Day against the Mets in New York.
"I always love throwing to him," Strasburg said.
Clippard retired right fielder Yasiel Puig on a liner to center with two on for the final out of the eighth after Jerry Blevins took over for Strasburg and retired Adrian Gonzalez on a foul pop to third.
"He has been good for us," Williams said of Blevins.
"We had a few different chances. We had chances at the right part of our order," Mattingly said.
Closer Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his seventh save as he kept his ERA at 0.00 in his 13th outing of the year. Soriano struck out pinch-hitter Matt Kemp to end the game on a 84 mph offspeed pitch.
The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the first on RBI singles by first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and Puig, who missed the previous two games after running into the fence on Sunday in Miami. The hit by Gonzalez broke a 0-for-15 slump.
"We had a chance to go 6-3," said Mattingly, whose team ended the road trip 5-4. "We have to play better at home. We will see what happens."
Washington tied the game 2-2 in the bottom of the first on first baseman Adam LaRoche's two-run single down the right field line that hit the top of the fence, just inches from being a three-run homer.
"It was good to see the offense come back," said Strasburg, whose club has allowed 34 first-inning runs in 34 games.
Haren allowed seven hits and three runs in six innings before he was lifted for pinch-hitter Justin Turner in the seventh. Dodgers' left fielder Carl Crawford had two hits and ended the series with eight hits after going 3-for-17 to begin the road trip.
Span and Werth each had two hits. The start of the game was delayed one hour, 40 minutes by rain. It was just the seventh win for the Nationals in their last 21 games against the Dodgers, who ended a three-city road trip.
NOTES: C Wilson Ramos (hamate fracture in his left hand) came off the DL and batted in the No. 5 spot for the Nationals. He was injured on Opening Day against the Mets. "He is a vital part of our success and we are glad he is back," manager Matt Williams said. To make room for Ramos the Nationals sent RHP Blake Treinen to Triple-A Syracuse after he pitched five innings and allowed three unearned runs Tuesday. … Dodgers assistant pitching coach Ken Howell attended Wakefield High in Arlington, Va., about eight miles from Nationals Park. … Dodgers 3B Lorenzo Bundy is from Tappahannock, Va., about 90 miles from the nation's capital, and played at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. … Williams was involved in a minor traffic accident before the game. His car was struck by a motorist trying to elude police. "Interesting morning," said Williams, who was not hurt.