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Rockies avoid sweep with 3-2 win over Nationals on Ben Paulsen RBI single in eighth

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The Washington Nationals rallied to tie it at 2-2 on a two-run home run by Michael Taylor in the top of the seventh, but the Colorado Rockies came right back with an RBI single to center by Ben Paulsen putting them ahead for good, 3-2 final.

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

5. Scherzer vs the Rockies: Winless in his last three starts (including one against tonight's opponents, the Colorado Rockies), Washington Nationals' right-hander Max Scherzer had a 7.80 ERA and a .306/.358/.645 line against in 15 innings pitched over that stretch, which left him (11-9) on the year with a 2.73 ERA, a 2.68 FIP, 23 walks (1.25 BB/9) and 194 Ks (10.58 K/9) in 165 IP in which opposing hitters have put up a combined .202/.239/.345 line.

Scherzer's last outing before tonight was his shortest of the season, a three-inning start against the San Francisco Giants last week in AT&T Park in which he gave up seven hits, two of them home runs, and six runs total.

"When I looked at the video, it's not a body mechanical thing. All my legs and limbs are working in sync. It's my arm action is off. It's a small thing within my arm action..." -Max Scherzer on what was wrong last time out in AT&T Park

Nationals' skipper Matt Williams said after the loss that Scherzer's command just wasn't there.

"I think it's more location than anything," he explained.

"Velocity is okay. He's running it in there at 92-95 like he always does. But the location tonight: Breaking ball for the double down the line, fastball down and away --  pretty good pitch for the double down the line and then the homer to [Hunter] Pence was center-cut. He's going to compete. He'll go out there again next time and hopefully give us a win."

Scherzer said after the game that he had already studied the film of his outing and determined what he thought was the issue.

"When I looked at the video, it's not a body mechanical thing," he said.

"All my legs and limbs are working in sync. It's my arm action is off. It's a small thing within my arm action where I'm not quite getting my fingers on top of the ball and it's causing me to flatten everything out."

After giving up eight hits and four runs in six innings against the Rockies when he faced them in the nation's capital a few weeks back, Scherzer started tonight's game with two quick outs before he gave up a walk to Carlos Gonzalez, who was stranded when Nolan Arenado popped up to center to end a 17-pitch first.

Daniel Descalso walked with two down in the second and took third on a double to left by debuting Rockies' catcher Dustin Garneau (1st MLB hit), but the opposing pitcher, Yohan Flande, went down swinging to end a 16-pitch frame. 33 total for Scherzer after two.

Jose Reyes sent a weak, one-out roller back to the mound and off Scherzer for an infield single in the third, but two outs later, he was stranded at the end of a 13-pitch frame that pushed the Nats' starter up to 46 pitches.

A quick, 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth left Scherzer at 58 pitches.

Yohan Flande dropped a weak pop between Ian Desmond and a charging Jayson Werth for a one-out hit in the fifth and Charlie Blackmon battled for seven pitches before lining a single to right. Jose Reyes stepped in next and sent an RBI double into the right field corner to bring Flande around and make it 1-0. Scherzer walked Carlos Gonzalez intentionally to bring Nolan Arenado up with the bases loaded and one down. Scherzer got Arenado to chase a 1-2 cutter out of the zone for out no.2. Ben Paulsen stepped in next and K'd swinging to end a 24-pitch frame. 82 total.

Matt McBride singled to start the Rockies' sixth, took second on a groundout and third on a flyout before scoring on another hit by Yohan Flande, who hit a chopper over the mound for an RBI single. 2-0 Colorado after six. 13-pitch inning, 95 total.

With the score tied at 2-2 in the seventh, after Michael Taylor's two-run home run in the top of the frame, Jose Reyes singled to start bottom of the inning and Matt Williams went to the pen...

Max Scherzer's Line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 Ks, 103 P, 69 S, 3/5 GO/FO.

4. Flande vs the Nationals: Washington's Nationals scored three runs on three home runs (two of them hit by Ryan Zimmerman) in 4 ⅔ innings earlier this month when they faced lefty Yohan Flande in the nation's capital earlier this month.

Colorado's 29-year-old starter received no decision in what ended up being a 6-4 Rockies' win.

"He's a strike thrower. That's what he does, and he sinks the ball. He has a good changeup, and that's what he did again today." -Walt Weiss on Yohan Flande to the Denver Post

The start left Flande (0-1) in three career outings against the Nationals, with a 5.87 ERA and a .283/.313/.500 line against in 15 ⅓ IP against Washington in his first two major league campaigns.

Flande followed that start up with a six-inning appearance against the San Diego Padres in which he gave up eight hits and four earned runs in a 9-5 loss in Coors Field.

Before he took the mound at home tonight, Flande was (2-1) after 12 games, four of them starts this season, with a 4.19 ERA, a 5.04 FIP, nine walks (2.09 BB/9) and 23 Ks (5.35 K/9) in 38 ⅔ IP over which opposing hitters had a .268/.313/.470 line against him.

Flande's second start of the month against the Nationals began with a scoreless 13-pitch first in which he worked around a two-out double by Bryce Harper. Another 13-pitch frame in the second left Flande at 26 pitches.

The Nationals went down in order again in the third, in a 10-pitch frame. 36 total.

Bryce Harper walked with one down in the top of the fourth, and took second on a throwing error by Rockies' first baseman Ben Paulsen on a groundout to first by Yunel Escobar. He was stranded, however, when Ian Desmond groundout out to end a 14-pitch inning. 50 total for Flande.

Ryan Zimmerman walked to start the top of the fourth, but one out later he was doubled up on a grounder to third by Wilson Ramos. 5-4-3. 15-pitch frame, 65 overall.

Anthony Rendon singled with one down in the sixth, but was stranded when Bryce Harper popped out to end a nine-pitch frame. 74 total for Flande after six scoreless.

Ryan Zimmerman walked with two down in the top of the seventh, and Michael Taylor stepped in next and hit the first pitch he saw out to left-center field and 15-20 feet deep for a game-tying two-run blast. 2-2 game 15-pitch frame, 89 pitches for Flande.

Yohan Flande's Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 89 P, 55 S, 10/4 GO/FO.

3. Random Game Notes: The Rockies took two of three in D.C. With last night's win, the Nationals claimed the series in Coors Field, and they were trying to win three straight for the first time in the second half tonight.

• With wins in the first two games of three game set in Denver, the Nationals improved to 6-1 in their last seven games in the Mile-High city.

• The Rockies' bullpen, which gave up nine runs in the last three innings of the series opener, and three more last night, had a combined (1-5) record and an 11.57 ERA over the last 30 ⅓ IP.

• The Rockies' pitchers' 19 walks in the first two games is the most in consecutive games since 1999, they walked 20 in two.

• At home in Coors Field, heading into tonight's game, Rockies' third baseman Nolan Arenado is 67 for 223 (.300 AVG) with 11 of his 29 home runs in Colorado.

• Carlos Gonzalez (24) and Arenado (17), in tonight's "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment, are first in second in the NL in home runs since June 1st.

Jayson Werth's go-ahead, three-run triple last night, was the 21st triple in 1,330 games in his major league career.

• Bryce Harper entered tonight's game leading the majors in SLG (.634) and OBP (.454).

• Harper's 30 HRs after the most in the National League.

Yunel Escobar's two-hit game last night was his 36th multi-hit game of the season, the most by any National.

2. Turning Point(s): Rockies' starter Yohan Flande held the Nationals' hitters to just one hit through five and then matched their total when he sent a 96 mph 0-2 fastball to short left, just over Ian Desmond for a one-out single in the bottom of the inning. Charlie Blackmon and Jose Reyes followed with a single and double, respectively, and Colorado took a 1-0 lead in the series finale with Washington in Coors Field.

• The Nationals made the decision at that point to load the bases up by walking Carlos Gonzalez intentionally and Max Scherzer got down to business, striking both Nolan Arenado and Ben Paulsen out to leave'em loaded at the end of a 24-pitch frame.

• Rockies' left fielder Matt McBride singled and moved around to third after a groundout and flyout before scoring on an RBI infield single by Yohan Flande, who was single-handedly beating the Nationals through six. 2-0.

• Just when it started to seem that all hope was lost (a little dramatic, okay), Ryan Zimmerman took a two-out walk from Flande in the Nationals' half of the seventh, and Michael Taylor stepped in next and hit a game-tying two-run blast out to left-center. 2-2 game.

• [ed. note - "The exciting conclusion below..."]

1. The Wrap-Up: With the score tied at 2-2 and a runner on after a Jose Reyes' single ended Max Scherzer's night, Matt Williams went to the pen for Felipe Rivero with Carlos Gonzalez due up. Rivera made a quick, snap throw to first that looked like it might have caught Reyes, so Williams challenged the original call, but it was upheld.

Carlos Gonzalez took a 1-1 fastball from Rivero through the left side for an opposite field single that put two on, so the Nats went to the pen again for Blake Treinen.

Nolan Arenado stepped in against Treinen and got up 0-2 quickly and threw a 1-2 slider by the Rockies' slugger for a called strike three. Two outs. Treinen vs Ben Paulsen? Treinen stayed in against the left-handed hitting first baseman (with a .322/.398/.471 line vs LHBs this season) and gave up an RBI single to center on a 95 mph 2-1 fastball. 3-2 Rockies after seven.

Scott Oberg came on for Colorado in the eighth and retired the Nationals in order. Still 3-2.

Matt Thornton retired the Rockies in order in the eighth.

John Axford gave up a leadoff single to center by Bryce Harper on the first pitch of the ninth. Yunel Escobar stepped in next and went down looking at a 3-2 curve.

Ian Desmond came up with one on and one out and went down swinging at a 2-2 slider.

Ryan Zimmerman fell behind 0-2, but got to 3-2 and walked to put two on with the tying run in scoring position.

Michael Taylor? Could he do it again? Unfortunately, no. Swinging K. Ballgame.

Nationals now 60-60