WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 100 pitches in, Stephen Strasburg was adamant he wasn’t quite ready to leave the latest superb start by a Nationals pitcher against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship Series — a win that put Washington on the verge of the city’s first World Series in 86 years.

It was the seventh inning, and manager Dave Martinez noticed Strasburg had flexed his right leg and reached for that hamstring. So the skipper and a trainer went to the mound to check on their guy.

The right-hander did, indeed, stay in. Even struck out the next two batters to raise his total to 12 Ks, each finished with an off-speed pitch. Strasburg took his turn silencing the Cardinals’ struggling bats, Nationals postseason star Howie Kendrick doubled three times and drove in three more runs, and Washington took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven NLCS by beating St. Louis 8-1 Monday night.

Until this season, the Nationals hadn’t won a playoff series, going 0-4 since 2012, but they sure look as if they’re making up for lost time.

Patrick Corbin will start for the Nationals in Game 4 on Tuesday night, when they can close out a sweep at home. Rookie right-hander Dakota Hudson will be on the mound for the Cardinals.

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