The Washington Nationals were handed a perfect opportunity this week to erase much of their inconsistent and injury-filled first two months of the season. The last-place Phillies arrived in the District for a three-game series in mid-tailspin while the first-place Braves were encountering their own struggles.

Two games into the series, the Nationals look fully poised to make the most of their chances, as Stephen Strasburg dominated in a rain-delayed 8-4 win over Philadelphia at Nationals Park. The victory left the Nationals one game over .500 and only 11 / 2 games behind Atlanta in the NL East.

The rain arrived in earnestjust as the Phillies trimmed into the Nationals’ comfortable lead in the top of the seventh inning, suspending play for 1 hour 48 minutes. By the time Jerry Blevins got Chase Utley to pop out to end the game, only a handful of fans remained.

The Nationals offense, dormant for much of May, has scored 39 runs over the past six games, a surge powered by the hot hitting of Anthony Rendon and Denard Span, thereturn of Ryan Zimmerman and the recent contributions of Danny Espinosa.

Span, who is hitting .388 the past two weeks, drilled two doubles on Wednesday and drove in two runs. Rendon, who hit .212 in May, knocked a two-run single and smashed his eighth home run off Phillies starter A.J. Burnett, whom the Nationals battered for eight runs. Espinosa had two hits, including a two-run double in a crucial spot in the fourth inning that started the Nationals’ scoring binge.