Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Stephen Strasburg certainly lived up to the hype in one of the most anticipated debuts in recent memory, striking out an eye-popping 14 of the 24 Pirates he faced in Washington's 5-2 victory.
Despite being limited by a pitch count, Strasburg (1-0) lasted seven brilliant innings, allowing a mere four hits without walking a batter. He threw 65 of his 94 pitches for strikes and his strikeout total was the third most in a debut in major league history and most for the Nationals since the franchise moved from Montreal.
The 21-year-old right-hander commanded an array of back-breaking pitches, including a fastball that was consistently in the 97-99 m.p.h range and a deadly curve that served as his strikeout pitch for most of the game.
He struck out the final seven batters he faced and his only true mistake was serving up a two-run homer to Delwyn Young in the fourth inning.
That blast gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead, but the 6-foot-4, 220-pound flame- thrower quickly recovered and retired the next 10 hitters before a pair of homers in the sixth put him in line for the win.
Adam Dunn hit a go-ahead two-run blast in the frame, and Josh Willingham followed with one of his own for Washington, which had lost five of six coming into the game.
Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-4 with a home run and three runs scored, and Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps each hurled a scoreless inning of relief to seal the memorable win before a sellout crowd of 40,315.
Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens (1-2) held the Nats in check for the first five frames before wilting in the sixth and finishing with a line of four runs allowed on nine hits.
The Pirates have lost four of five overall.