GAME IN A NUTSHELL: After an agonizing loss Wednesday night in which they couldn't produce the one clutch hit that would've won the game — a theme that has been all too familiar this season — the Nationals came back refreshed today hoping for better results in their series opener against the Rangers. Then they got one massively big blast from Ian Desmond, which proved to be the hit that finally opened the floodgates and let this lineup relax and produce at the plate.

Desmond's 3-run homer off Colby Lewis in the bottom of the fourth gave the Nationals the lead and sent the crowd of 31,659 into a tizzy. It also prompted the rest of the lineup to get into the act. They wound up getting a clutch pinch-hit double from Tyler Moore and at least two hits from four different starters to pace their best offensive showing in awhile.

The beneficiary of all that run support: Stephen Strasburg, who shook off one brief, bizarre sequence in the top of the second to put forth one of his best starts in awhile and shut the door on a Texas club that had visions of mounting a comeback. By night's end, the Nationals were able to coast their way to a comfortable victory, one that may prove as cathartic as it was necessary.