Manager Matt Williams presented Stephen Strasburg with an opportunity Wednesday afternoon, a chance to burnish his résumé and his reputation. Strasburg wants the Washington Nationals to lean on him, and he wants the ball at moments like the one that arose at the start of the eighth inning. He had thrown 106 pitches. The Nationals clung to a one-run lead. The top of an imposing lineup loomed. And Williams sent him to the mound.

The moment, fit for an ace, slipped through Strasburg’s hands. The Nationals leaned instead on their bullpen, the most trustworthy sector of their team. Jerry Blevins and Tyler Clippard each recorded one crucial out after Strasburg left, handing Strasburg a win and the Nationals a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In his return from the disabled list, catcher Wilson Ramos went 1 for 2 with a walk, a double and a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning that scored the game-winning run. The Nationals clobbered former teammate Dan Haren in the first inning to erase another early deficit, and then Strasburg settled in.

After the Dodgers scored two runs on four consecutive singles in the first inning, Strasburg retired 20 of the final 25 batters he faced. In total, he allowed two runs over 71 / 3 innings, striking out six and allowing seven hits, all of them singles.

Strasburg cruised until the eighth, when he emerged from the Nationals dugout to face the top of the Dodgers order. Dee Gordon led off with a perfect bunt single between Strasburg and second baseman Danny Espinosa. After Carl Crawford lined out to left, Williams let Strasburg face Hanley Ramirez. He walked on a change-up in the dirt, Strasburg’s 114th pitch.

With left-hander Adrian Gonzalez up, Williams took the ball from Strasburg and summoned Blevins, who has been one of the most reliable pieces of a reliable bullpen. On the 10th pitch of the confrontation, Blevins threw a 91 mph sinker on Gonzalez’s fists. He popped up foul to third base.