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Strasburg hurls five hitless innings

Strasburg hurls five hitless innings

READING, Pa. -- Even though he hadn't allowed a hit or a walk, Stephen Strasburg sat down on the dugout bench and buttoned up his jacket. Five innings into his first professional no-hitter, Strasburg was done for the night.

The 21-year-old phenom right-hander didn't fuss or argue -- by now, he knows the routine. His patience through this development process is almost as impressive as his fastball.

Almost.

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Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's First-Year Player Draft, turned in another sensational performance for Double-A Harrisburg on a chilly and windy night here. He did not allow a hit in five innings, with no walks, six strikeouts, and the lone batter to reach base for Reading was due to a passed ball on a strikeout.

He threw 64 pitches, 48 for strikes, and even singled home the lone run in Harrisburg's 1-0 victory with a base hit up the middle in the fifth inning.

"I'm happy with where I'm at right now," Strasburg said.

The only question is how long Strasburg will stay where he's at. His play so far dictates that it cannot be much longer. His ERA in four starts now stands at 0.52. He has allowed only seven hits in 17 1/3 innings, with 23 strikeouts to just three walks.

Though Strasburg has yet to throw more than five innings, it's clear that he is having little trouble retiring Double-A level hitters.

"I've got to stick with the program here," Strasburg said. "I've got to keep an eye on building off the previous start."

On Tuesday, in game one of a doubleheader, Strasburg was almost laughably dominant. The radar gun in center field continually clocked him at 94 mph, but those who know the ballpark said it's slow by four mph. Strasburg also displayed enhanced control of pitches other than his fastball -- three of his six strikeouts were on offspeed stuff.

"If I'm not commanding all my pitches, I'm not going to throw offspeed if I can't throw for a strike," Strasburg said. "I think that was the main thing I was able to do tonight, keep the ball down and work in and out."

"That kind of arm doesn't come around very often," said Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who threw two innings in a rehab appearance for Reading. "It's not very often you see a guy be able to throw that hard with that kind of command of his offspeed pitches."

And just when it seemed there's nothing more he could do, Strasburg drove in the game's only run off of Reading starter Michael Cisco. It's Strasburg's second career RBI.

"I was just really happy to hit the ball," Strasburg said.

That's more than any of Reading's batters could say.

Strasburg's next scheduled start will be on May 2 vs. Bowie.

"I've learned a lot, this team's got a great coaching staff," Strasburg said. "When the time comes, I'll be very excited. But I'm living in the now and focusing on tomorrow and what I have to do to get ready."

Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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