CINCINNATI — For his latest feat, Stephen Strasburg tamed the NL's top offense on its own turf.
Washington's hard-throwing rookie, contained the Cincinnati Reds' high-scoring lineup Wednesday night, and a slumping Nationals offense finally came around behind Cristian Guzman's homer, pulling away to an 8-5 victory.
A day after he turned 22, Strasburg (5-2) pitched beyond his years again, passing one of his toughest tests.
The Reds lead the National League in batting average, hits and RBI. They can manhandle pitchers at homer-friendly Great American Ball Park, where even a tiny mistake often ends up in the seats.
Strasburg struck out seven and gave up three runs and seven hits in 51⁄3 innings, outdoing the Reds' top pitcher.
Bronson Arroyo (10-5) had allowed only three runs in his last three starts, winning them all. Registering more typical numbers on the radar gun — 69 to 89 mph — Arroyo couldn't keep up with Straburg. Guzman's two-run homer put the Nationals up 3-1 in the fifth, and Nyjer Morgan added a two-run single for a 7-1 lead.
Arroyo went 52⁄3 innings, allowing seven runs, six hits and three walks.
All-Star closer Matt Capps got the last four outs in front of a capacity crowd for his 24th save.
Wherever he goes, Strasburg draws a crowd. The Reds sold out his Cincinnati debut, the first time in four years they had a capacity crowd for a weeknight game.
Even the all-time hits king showed up to get a peak. Pete Rose took in a few innings from the third row behind home plate, attending his second straight game in his hometown.
Bailey, Harang update
Homer Bailey took an important step in his comeback from an inflamed shoulder, throwing about 50 pitches to Cincinnati teammates during a simulated game without a problem.
Aaron Harang wasn't nearly so good.
The Reds got contrasting updates on two of their disabled starting pitchers Wednesday. Bailey appears to be recovered from the inflamed pitching shoulder that has disabled him since May 24, a far longer recovery than initially expected.
Unless he develops an unexpected problem, Bailey will begin a rehabilitation assignment on Monday at Class A Dayton.
"It was pretty good," Bailey said. "My curve and fastball were good, but the slider was a little off."
Manager Dusty Baker watched from behind the batting cage while Bailey (1-2, 5.51 ERA) threw all of his pitches without pain.
"His command was above average, but still not where you want it to be," Baker said. "His arm speed was good; his curveball was good."
Harang, their opening-day starter, has been disabled since July 6 by spasms in his lower back. He's gotten treatments at a chiropractor all week and felt better after his session on Wednesday.
"I got a definite relief today," Harang said.
Harang threw last week but didn't feel comfortable because of the back. He attended a team function at the Reds Hall of Fame on Sunday night, and the back felt worse afterward.
"Standing around at the Hall of Fame the other night — my back didn't like that," he said. "I was a little stiff the other day."
Fisher up, Owings down
The Reds have made a change in their bullpen, calling up right-hander Carlos Fisher from Triple-A Louisville and sending down seldom-used right-hander Micah Owings. Wednesday's move came one day after Owings had trouble throwing strikes during an 8-7 win over the Nationals. Pitching for the first time since July 4, Owings gave up four runs while retiring only two.