Stephen Strasburg's 10 strikeouts vault Nationals over Braves

Strasburg struck out 10 Braves batters to earn his 15th win. Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - Because the Washington Nationals have an innings limit for star right-hander Stephen Strasburg, there aren't many starts left in his remarkable season.

On Tuesday night, Strasburg ignored that talk and weathered his first major league rain delay, striking out 10 and allowing one run in six innings for his 15th win as the Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 4-1.

For weeks, the impending shutdown of Strasburg (15-5) has been the talk of baseball and though the Nationals haven't said exactly what their limit is, it's thought to be between 160 and 180 innings. After this start, his fourth straight win, when he allowed four hits and walked one, he has thrown 145 1-3 innings.

"It's funny. Nobody talks to me personally about it. Obviously, I can either scour the Internet or watch all the stuff being said on TV or I can just keep pitching and watch the Golf Channel, I guess," Strasburg said.

Talk of his innings limit overshadowed discussion of the NL East race. Washington's win gave the Nationals a seven-game lead over second-place Atlanta, their largest of the season.

"Eight would be better," manager Davey Johnson said.

Had the rain delay exceeded an hour, Johnson said he would not have let Strasburg return to the game. Strasburg had allowed two hits and struck out four when the 51-minute delay began.

"I didn't like the way he was throwing, so I wanted him to go back out," Johnson joked.

"It was just a dominant outing. He had a good idea of what he wanted to do - and he was doing it."

The Braves have lost four straight, and if they lose Wednesday, they will leave town with an eight-game deficit.

"It's not the end of the world. We've got 40 games left or whatever it is," Atlanta starter Paul Maholm said.