Game in a nutshell: The thermometer read 104 degrees at gametime, an all-time record in Atlanta, and that spelled trouble for Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals. Strasburg lasted only three innings before he had to be pulled with "heat-related issues," and that forced Davey Johnson into using struggling long reliever Chien-Ming Wang in what was at the time a 3-2 game. Wang immediately gave up four runs in two innings, leaving the Nats in a 7-2 deficit. To their credit, they chipped away and got back to within two runs thanks to RBI hits from Tyler Moore, Jesus Flores and Adam LaRoche. In the end, the Nationals simply couldn't make it all the way back.
Hitting highlight: LaRoche has been in something of a prolonged slump for more than a month, but perhaps this game will help him snap out of it. The veteran first baseman roped two doubles and also drew two walks, scoring two runs in the process. Michael Morse's resurgence will prompt Johnson to slide LaRoche down to the 5-hole against both right-handers and left-handers moving forward, but his ability to produce from that spot will be crucial and prevent opposing teams from pitching around Morse. Today's game might have been a step in the right direction.
Pitching lowlight: Though he didn't give up a run or a hit in his first two innings, Strasburg obviously was laboring from the get-go. He took plenty of time in between pitches, was sweating profusely through his jersey and was expending lots of energy. It finally caught up to him in the third when the Braves turned two walks and two doubles into three runs. Strasburg walked ever so slowly off the field and looked like he needed some quality time in the air-conditioned clubhouse, except he was due up third in the top of the fourth. Not wanting to even swing the bat, Strasburg nonetheless drew a walk and thus had to run the bases. By the time that all ended, he was cooked. Despite an animated conversation in the dugout, the right-hander was pulled with "heat-related issues," an unfortunate end to a frustratingly brief day.
Key stat: In their eight-year history, Nationals have played five games with the temperature at first pitch over 100 degrees. Three of them have come this week in Colorado and Atlanta.
Up next: The thermometer is expected to reach triple-digits again Sunday when the Nationals and Braves close out this series. Gio Gonzalez faces Tim Hudson at 1:35 p.m.