WASHINGTON — With Stephen Strasburg suddenly scratched, reliever Miguel Batista was pressed into making his first start in nearly two years — and the 39-year-old journeyman was rather Strasburglike.
Washington's Batista allowed only three singles in five scoreless innings, two throwing errors hurt Atlanta starter Tommy Hanson, and the last-place Nationals beat the NL East-leading Braves 3-0 on Tuesday night.
Batista (1-2) hadn't started a major league game since Aug. 25, 2008, for Seattle, and he didn't know he would be taking the mound until minutes before the scheduled first pitch. That's because Strasburg was supposed to making the 10th appearance of his much-hyped career.
But the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft, who signed a record $15.1 million contract, had problems warming up.
"Stephen was having trouble getting loose in the bullpen, and so I pulled the plug on it," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said, adding that he considered it a "precautionary move."
"There's no shooting pains or anything like that in his shoulder or elbow," Rizzo said.
This was supposed to be the first time Strasburg faced a team for a second time since making his major league debut June 8, striking out 14 batters in a victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Instead, it was the first time Strasburg might have made his team and its fans truly nervous. He was sent for medical tests and listed as day to day.
When the announced sellout crowd of 40,043 was told of the change in pitchers from Strasburg to Batista, fans responded with boos. They booed some more when a longer explanation was delivered before the third inning.
But Batista was quite good, striking out six and walking one. Relievers Sean Burnett, Drew Storen and Matt Capps completed the shutout. Capps threw a perfect ninth for his 25th save in 29 chances.
Hanson (8-7) went six innings, giving up three runs — only one earned — and six hits. He had eight strikeouts without a walk.
Nyjer Morgan led off the game with a single, then stole second and third. Catcher Brian McCann's attempt to throw out Morgan at third base went into left field for a throwing error and allowed a run to score.
In the second inning, Roger Bernadina singled and, a batter later, reached third on Chipper Jones' throwing error. Ian Desmond's two-run single made it 3-0.
NOTES: Nationals RHP Tyler Walker has a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder and expects to have season-ending surgery Friday. He'll be examined by noted surgeon James Andrews on Thursday. Walker, a reliever who went on the DL last month, had a torn labrum repaired in October 2000. "Once every 10 years," Walker said. That's not too bad. Go in and rotate the tires." He went 1-0 with a 3.57 ERA in 24 appearances this season. ... Before the game, a hearing was held in Braves LHP Jonny Venters' appeal of his four-game suspension for throwing consecutive pitches at Milwaukee's Prince Fielder on July 17. Venters pitched two hitless innings on Tuesday. ... The Braves optioned OF Nate McLouth to Triple-A Gwinnett and activated OF Brent Clevlen from the 15-day DL. McLouth is batting .168 this season. ... Atlanta backup C David Ross agreed to a two-year contract extension that will pay him $3.25 million. ... The Nationals will honor new Hall of Famer Andre Dawson before their home game Aug. 10. Dawson played 11 of his 21 seasons with the Montreal Expos, from 1976-86; the franchise moved to Washington before the 2005 season.