WASHINGTON -- After all the innings-limit hoopla of last season, Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg had to point out Sunday that he has thrown nine innings in a game before.
But he quickly pointed out that doing so in The Show is a different animal.
"It is different doing it at the big-league level," Strasburg said Sunday evening, standing by his locker following a nine-inning four-hitter to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-0. "You are drained as the game goes along. It is a good feeling. But there is a long way to go" in order to go deep into games regularly.
Strasburg, utilizing an effective sharp-breaking curve, had 10 strikeouts and one walk. His longest outings of the season before Sunday were eight innings, a mark he reached three times. Strasburg (6-9) threw 90 pitches in the first eight innings against the Phillies, and the crowd cheered as he took the mound to start the ninth. He wound up at 99 pitches in his first major league complete game.
"What a great job," said Davey Johnson, the Washington manager. "He was still throwing hard at the end. You expect more of those from him. He was pounding the zone. I don't think he threw many change-ups."
Said Wilson Ramos, the Washington catcher: "It was a good day. I was very excited for him. He threw the ball very good. He was aggressive."
The right-hander persevered despite being checked out by the trainer after a pitch in the second and after he was hit on the right forearm while attempting to bunt in the fifth.
"We were concerned" in the second inning, said Johnson, who added Strasburg tweaked his groin when pitching to Domonic Brown.
Strasburg was hit on the arm on a pitch from Kendrick, but first base umpire James Hoye ruled that Strasburg attempted to bunt.
"I was hit but it just grazed me," Strasburg said.
After throwing a pitch to Brown to lead off the second, Strasburg was checked by manager Johnson, pitching coach Steve McCatty and trainer Lee Kuntz. Strasburg threw a warmup toss, then stayed in the game.
The Phillies (52-65) have lost nine of their last 11 games overall and the last 11 in a row on the road. Philadelphia is 19 1/2 games back of the first-place Atlanta Braves, while the Nationals (57-60) remain 14 1/2 games behind.
Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel was denied his 1,000th victory for the third day in a row.
"He'd get ahead of us with his fastball or his breaking ball. He's tough. His breaking ball really set up his fastball in the middle innings 'til the end of the game. He was good. Power when he wanted it," Manuel said of Strasburg.
"It's been tough. Since I've been managing in the major leagues this is definitely the toughest stretch we've ever had," Manuel added.
The Nationals, who finished with 13 hits, scored three runs in the fifth to take a 6-0 lead. Steve Lombardozzi (three hits) drove in a run with a single after Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond scored when Phillies' second baseman Chase Utley skipped a throw to catcher Erik Kratz on a play at the plate with the bases loaded.
Wilson Ramos and Denard Span had RBI singles in the fourth off Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick (10-9) to give the Nationals a 3-0 lead.
Werth (three hits) had given Washington a 1-0 lead in the first with an RBI single to score Span. Johnson said Werth tweaked his knee on a slide into home in the fifth. He was replaced in right field late in the game by Roger Bernadina.
NOTES: The Phillies are 13-11 in games started by Kendrick ... Kratz played in college at Division III Eastern Mennonite University, about 120 miles southwest of Nationals Park in Harrisonburg, Va. ... Washington LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-5, 3.52 ERA) will oppose San Francisco Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner (11-7, 2.75) on Tuesday at Nationals Park. LHP Cole Hamels (4-13, 3.81) and the Phillies will play Monday at Atlanta, which will start RHP Julio Teheran (9-5, 2.96). Hamels is 12-8 with a 3.73 ERA in his career against Atlanta. ... Gonzalez is 2-2 with a 2.87 career ERA against the Giants ... The Nationals are only 8-15 in Strasburg's starts.