ATLANTA -- Washington won the game, but the mood in the Nationals' clubhouse after the 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves was not celebratory. There was concern about the health of ace Stephen Strasburg, who had to be removed after pitching only two innings because of a strained right oblique.
"It was a great win, but Stras is a big loss," Washington manager Davey Johnson said. "I'm not so much worried about his back as I was about his arm. His side will heal, but when you try to do too much with your arm, it's dangerous."
Strasburg experienced muscle soreness in his last start, but it loosened up as the game evolved. That wasn't the case this time, as Johnson noticed his No. 1 pitcher grimacing when he threw.
"I saw him wincing and even (catcher Kurt) Suzuki gave a sign like 'it's not real good,'" Johnson said.
Strasburg threw only 37 pitches and allowed one run and two hits. It was his shortest outing of his career.
Strasburg didn't want to leave the game and told Johnson and pitching coach Steve McCatty that the muscle would loosen back up. Johnson vetoed that notion and said, "He's a gamer and he wanted to continue, but I'm not going to take a chance."
Strasburg will fly back to Washington to be examined by the team's doctors. No roster move is imminent. Strasburg isn't scheduled to pitch again until Wednesday.
When Strasburg was forced to go into the clubhouse for treatment, the Nationals turned to Craig Stammen (3-1) for long relief. He responded with four no-hit innings and struck out three in his longest stint since he was moved to the bullpen in August 2010.
"Stammen pitched a heckuva ballgame," Johnson said.
Atlanta had a chance in the seventh against Washington's Tyler Clippard, who struggled in one inning of relief. Clippard allowed a run and hit two batters to load the bases before striking out Dan Uggla and Chris Johnson to end the inning.
"We had a chance," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We couldn't put the ball in play. We couldn't get that blooper like we did last night (against Toronto)."
Washington's Drew Storen threw a scoreless eighth and Rafael Soriano closed the game with a scoreless ninth to pick up his 15th save.
"It was a close game," Atlanta shortstop Ramiro Pena said. "Give credit to their pitchers. Their bullpen did a really good job."
The Washington offense was led by center fielder Denard Span. He led off the first and sixth innings with triples, matching a club record, and scored on two sacrifice flies by Steve Lombardozzi. Span is tied for the National League lead with five triples.
Atlanta starter Julio Teheran (3-2) struck out a career-high nine batters and allowed seven hits and three runs in 6 ? innings.
"Teheran pitched a great game," Gonzalez said. "Span gets the two triples and they did a nice job of situational hitting. Three runs is a nice outing."
The Nationals struck quickly for a run in the first off Teheran. Span slammed the game's second pitch high into the right field corner. Justin Upton, who normally plays left field, got turned around and Span wound up with a triple. He scored on Lombardozzi's sacrifice fly.
Washington scored again in the second. Roger Bernadina singled and advanced to third on Danny Espinosa's single. Bernadina scored on Suzuki's fielder's choice when the Braves could not complete a double play.
The Braves got a run back in bottom of the second when Freddie Freeman hit a towering home run into the right-field stands. It was his fifth homer of the season and the sixth given up by Strasburg. Freeman added an RBI single in the seventh.
The win is the third straight for Washington over Atlanta and cut the Braves' lead in the NL East to 4 1/2 games.
NOTES: Atlanta OF Jason Heyward batted leadoff for only the second time on Friday. It was his second start of the season in center field. ... Johnson said there is "no possibiity" that RF Jayson Werth will play in the weekend series against Atlanta. ... Washington has asked Brevard County (Fla.) officials to allow the club to break its lease on the spring training facility at the end of 2014, three years before the contract will expire. The Nationals cite distance as the main problem in Viera, where the closest opponents are more than an hour away.