Stephen Strasburg struggled through a 34-pitch first inning but escaped early jams to lead the Washington Nationals past the Florida Marlins 4-0 Friday night.

Strasburg (4-2) allowed two baserunners in each of the first three innings, walking three and throwing the first wild pitch of his career. But he finished with seven strikeouts in six innings and lowered his ERA to 2.03. Two relievers completed a four-hitter.

The shutout was the third this year for the Nationals, thanks in part to Strasburg's first scoreless outing.

Making his eighth major league start and facing Florida for the first time, Strasburg was locked in a scoreless duel with Ricky Nolasco (9-7) until Josh Willingham hit a three-run double in the sixth.

Strasburg walked two in the first inning, including Gaby Sanchez on 12 pitches, and received a visit from pitching coach Steve McCatty. Jorge Cantu's flyout ended the threat.

Two singles and a sacrifice put Marlins at second and third with two outs in the second, but Chris Coghlan grounded out. A walk and a single in the third for Florida were sandwiched around a caught stealing, and Strasburg retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced before departing after throwing 99 pitches.

The right-hander had the best of it in his first showdown with another heralded rookie, Mike Stanton. Florida's 20-year-old right fielder went 0 for 2 against the 21-year-old Strasburg.

Matt Capps, taking the mound for the first time since he was the winning pitcher in Tuesday night's All-Star game, pitched a hitless ninth.

The Marlins began a 10-game homestand that will determine whether they're buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, and they were plagued by a familiar problem: situational hitting. They went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position.

Manager Edwin Rodriguez said he drew up eight to 10 potential lineups before deciding on only a modest tweak to start the second half of the season. Dan Uggla batted fourth for just the third time this season, and Cantu was dropped to fifth.

The shuffling didn't help: Florida was shut out for the fourth time.

Nolasco, bidding to win his fifth consecutive decision, allowed only four baserunners — all on singles — in the first five innings. But he retired just one batter in the sixth.

Nyjer Morgan and Cristian Guzman started the inning with singles, and Adam Dunn walked to load the bases. Willingham followed with a double to end Nolasco's night, and Ivan Rodriguez's sacrifice fly made it 4-0.


NOTES: LF Coghlan made a leaping catch to rob Ryan Zimmerman of an extra-base hit in the fourth. ... Before the game, Edwin Rodriguez said the Marlins have underperformed. "We have the talent to have a way better record," he said. ... Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said he plans to platoon middle infielders Guzman, Ian Desmond and Adam Kennedy during the second half of the season. ... NL ERA leader Josh Johnson, who starts Saturday for Florida, has an ERA of 0.79 over his past 11 games.