**ed.  Sorry Friday's game story is being posted Saturday night.  It's been a long weekend.
by Anthony Amobi, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON – On a beautiful night for baseball in Washington, the seventh game of Strasmas came and went with the usual fanfare. However, Stephen Strasburg's winning performance was upstaged by the bat of a very hot, Bunyan-like first baseman.

For the 34,723 who ventured out to Nationals Park, they got their money’s worth as Strasburg dazzled and the offense came through as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Francisco Giants, 8-1, to kick off a three-game series – the final one – before the All-Star break.

Aside from Strasburg's efforts from the mound, there were several hitting stars for the Nats.

Adam Dunn provided the power as he did earlier in the week, as he hit two homers (his 21st and 22nd) to guide Washington to the easy win. Wil Nieves contributed to the winning effort with two hit and runs driven in, and Willie Harris had a much-needed three-hit night and lifted his batting average by nineteen points.

All in all, the team pounded out twelve hits en route to their 39th win of the season.

The pitching – Stephen Strasburg and three relievers –  held the Giants to just four hits in the contest.

Strasburg (W, 3-2, 2.32), the tall rookie phenom, once again delivered on the mound as he went six innings and gave up only one run – courtesy of a homer by the first batter of the game, center fielder Andres Torres. 

(Photo by Max Cook/We Love DC)

After that, Strasburg changed the script and took control of the situation. In the post-game press conference, Strasburg said about a change in his approach: "If they're going to beat me -- they're going to beat me on me calling my own game. I was just putting it all on my shoulders, and I have to do that from now on."

Sure enough, he controlled everything after the first inning. Strasburg soon decided to throw his own pitches, and the plan worked well. Much like hitters adjust to particular pitchers – he learned on Friday night that in order to be successful in the big leagues, you have to sometimes switch up your game against the best players in the world.

Strasburg added, “It's part of the learning process. In college, I didn't really have any say in what pitches were thrown; it was all called by the coach. That's one thing I've lacked in my game – was the ability to learn as the game went on and really think out there. I was more throwing whatever they called, and now I'm starting to figure things out."

(Photo by Max Cook/We Love DC)
Sure enough, Strasburg did figure some things out against the Giants to earn his first win in nearly a month. On the night, he allowed three hits, struck out eight and walked just one.

Washington got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning as Roger Bernadina ripped a one-out double to right-center field. A few minutes later, he tied the game at one after an errant throw by pitcher Matt Cain on a pick-off attempt at second base ended up floating into center field.

(Photo by Max Cook/We Love DC)

The Nationals increased their lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning as Adam Dunn took a 2-0 pitch from Cain and deposited it over the right-center field wall for a mammoth solo homer – his 21st on the year.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Washington scored twice to take a 4-1 lead. The frame started off with an Adam Dunn deep double to center – which barely missed being his second homer of the night – and that was followed up by a Cristian Guzman walk. After a Willie Harris strikeout and an Adam Kennedy walk, Wil Nieves poked a two-run, two-out single to right to plate in both Dunn and Harris.

(Photo by Max Cook/We Love DC)

However, Nieves overran first base and was thrown out attempting to dive back.

Washington made the score 5-1 in the seventh inning as Willie Harris plated Alberto Gonzalez – who tripled to leadoff the frame – with an RBI-single. Dunn cashed that run with his second homer of the night to deep center field – a two-run shot and his 22nd– increasing the lead to 7-1.

(Photo by  Max Cook/We Love DC)

They continued the rally with a Harris RBI-double to make the score 8-1, where it woudl stand for the final.

San Francisco’s Matt Cain (6-8) took the loss on the mound as he went 6 2/3 innings and have up eight runs – seven earned – on eleven hits. He struck out six and walked three.

NOTES:  Before the game, manager Jim Riggleman said Strasburg will start Washington's first game after the All-Star break, July 16 at Florida, then take his regular turn in the rotation until reaching the team-imposed limit of 160 innings this season. After Friday's start, Strasburg is up to 98 innings in 2010, including the minors.