BOSTON – Two of baseball’s youngest stars made very memorable debuts at the game’s oldest field Friday night.

Stephen Strasburg struck out 13 in six innings, Bryce Harper homered, and the Washington Nationals beat the Boston Red Sox 7-4 for the franchise’s first win at Fenway Park.

“It’s an unreal experience, coming in and playing for the first time at Fenway,” said Harper, who had three hits and drove in three runs. “It was so much fun. They just have a great fan base. It’s just great to play here.”

Harper admitted to being jittery before the game. Fenway is 100 years old this season; Harper isn’t quite 20. But he played like a veteran, dusting himself off after striking out in the first inning and helping the Nationals to three-run rallies in the third and fourth.

Strasburg also acknowledged playing in the iconic ballpark may have made him a little anxious, but he also settled down after allowing two runs in the second inning and tied his season high for strikeouts while throwing a career-high 119 pitches.

“Obviously you don’t want to go out there and throw that many pitches through six innings, but sometimes they’re just going to make you work,” Strasburg said. “I knew it was up there, but I had so much adrenaline being at Fenway for the first time it didn’t really matter.”


The Montreal Expos went 0-6 at Fenway before the club moved to Washington. The Nationals were 0-3 in Boston, but Harper and Strasburg showed why Washington is in front in the NL East.

“It was good to see all the young guys here rise, knowing they’re playing in one of the most historic ballparks in the game,” Strasburg said. “It’s awesome to go out there and be successful.”

Harper hit a two-run shot in the fourth and an RBI single in the sixth.

Strasburg (7-1) needed 33 pitches to get out of his final inning when he worked out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam. He finished one strikeout shy of his career high of 14, set on June 8, 2010 — exactly two years ago Friday — against Pittsburgh in his major league debut.

Strasburg struck out five straight and 7 of 8 during a stretch from the third inning to the fifth. He gave up two runs and four hits, improving to 4-0 with a 2.74 ERA in his last four starts.

“He threw a lot of pitches in six innings for sure. Like they were saying, he’s not just a thrower, he’s a pitcher,” Boston Manager Bobby Valentine said. “He’s special. He’s a very good pitcher, obviously.”


Boston starter Felix Doubront (6-3) was even better than Strasburg early, striking out four in the first two innings, but the Nationals got to him for three runs in the third on three hits and a pair of walks. They added three in the fourth, including a pair on Harper’s two-run shot to center, building a 6-2 lead.

Doubront lasted four innings and allowed six runs and eight hits, five doubles.

Adrian Gonzalez hit his 200th career homer, a solo shot off Ross Detwiler in the eighth, and Daniel Nava delivered an RBI double in the ninth against Brad Lidge to get Boston within three. Washington then brought in Tyler Clippard, who got two outs for his sixth save in seven chances.


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