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John Smoltz, seen in a 2007 start, is the 16th pitcher to reach 3,000 strikeouts in a career. ((Gregory Smith/Associated Press))

John Smoltz became the 16th pitcher in major league history to reach 3,000 strikeouts when the Atlanta Braves' right-hander struck out Washington's Felipe Lopez in the third inning on Tuesday night.

Smoltz, 40, received a standing ovation after Lopez swung and missed on a 2-2 pitch for the second out of the third inning.

Nick Johnson and Austin Kearns looked at called third strikes in the second. Nationals pitcher John Lannan struck out swinging to begin the third.

Among the 15 pitchers ahead of him on the 3,000 strikeout list, Smoltz reached the mark faster than all but Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Nolan Ryan, Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens.

The only pitcher in history with at least 200 victories and 150 saves in his career, Smoltz was attempting to improve to 4-0. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that his 3-0 mark made Smoltz just the fifth 40-year-old over the last 50 years to win his first three appearances.

The others were Kenny Rogers last year, Clemens in 2004, Ryan in 1990 and Phil Niekro in 1984.

Ryan is baseball's career strikeouts leader with 5,714.

Smoltz is in his 20th season, all with Atlanta. He is 210-145 lifetime with a 3.25 earned-run average.