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Nationals 5-1 over the Reds: Max Scherzer loses no-hit bid in the 8th

Washington Nationals' starter Max Scherzer provided a nice distraction from the last twenty-four hours in the nation's capital, taking a no-hit bid into the eighth before finally giving up a single with one down. 5-1 Nats over the Cincinnati Reds.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

5. Scherzer in D.C.: Washington Nationals' starter Max Scherzer took a 3-2 lead into the top of the seventh inning in his last start, against the Baltimore Orioles. Two outs after a leadoff double by J.J. Hardy, O's third baseman Manny Machado hit a two-run home run to left center field in Nationals Park on Scherzer's season-high 122nd offering, knocking the righty out of his 31st start of the season.

Scherzer suffered his twelfth loss, falling to (12-12) on the year with a 2.98 ERA, a 2.97 FIP, 31 walks (1.32 BB/9), 249 Ks (10.59 K/9) and a .216/.252/.379 line against  in 211 ⅔ innings pitched.

"I congratulate the Mets. They beat us. They earned it. But at the same time, everybody in this clubhouse needs to reflect on what happened for this year..." -Max Scherzer on disappointing results to MASN's Chris Johnson

Scherzer started the first year of his 7-year/$210M free agent deal strong. In the second half, however, Scherzer has struggled, going (2-5) with a 4.41 ERA, a 4.11 FIP, 17 walks (1.92 BB/9), 99 Ks (11.18 K/9) and a .266/.311/.503 line against in 13 starts and 79 ⅔ innings pitched, after he went (10-7) with a 2.11 ERA, a 2.27 FIP,14 walks (0.95 BB/9), 150 Ks (10.23 K/9) and a .183/.214/.299 line against in 18 starts and 132 IP before the All-Star break.

The real problem for the Nationals' ace in the second half has been Scherzer's inability to keep the ball in the yard.

Scherzer gave up 10 home runs (0.68 HR/9) in the first half, but after giving up two home runs last time out, the right-hander has now allowed 17 (1.92 HR/9) since mid-July.

"It's up and out, over,"Williams said, of the 97 mph 2-2 fastball Scherzer threw Machado on the home run pitch.

"it's not on the corner down somewhere, and it's not a slider. He challenged him with the fastball and [Machado] got it."

"Had him two strikes, two outs," Williams told reporters. "Worked through that inning after the leadoff double and left one out, over."

This afternoon in the nation's capital, in his final start in Nationals Park, Scherzer was taking on the Cincinnati Reds for the second time in 2015 after giving up seven hits and five earned runs in 4 ⅔ IP in Ohio's Great American Ball Park back on July 7th.

Scherzer's final home start of the season began with a scoreless first inning in which he worked around a two-out walk to NL walk leader Joey Votto. 23-pitch first.

An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 second left Scherzer at 34 total after two.

Reds' catcher Tucker Barnhart took a leadoff walk in the top of the third and moved up on a sac bunt, but Skip Schumaker lined out to a diving Tyler Moore in left for the second out of the frame and Ivan De Jesus, Jr. sent a swinging bunt to third to end Scherzer's third scoreless. 13-pitch frame. 47 total.

Scherzer added two Ks in a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth. 59 total, 5 Ks.

Scherzer added two Ks for seven total in another 1-2-3 frame in the fifth. 11-pitch frame, 70 total in five scoreless... and h _ _ less...

Scherzer struck Ivan De Jesus, Jr. out for the third out of a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth. 79 pitches, eight Ks. Two walks...

Joey Votto tipped a 99 mph 1-2 heater up high into Wilson Ramos' mitt. 9 Ks. Trea Turner showed off the range and the arm on spinning play on a grounder off Todd Frazier's bat. Jay Bruce fell behind 0-2 but battled back and walked in an 11-pitch walk that snapped a streak of 14-straight set down. Eugenio Suarez stepped in with a runner on and two out and sent a swinging bunt back to the mound. 19-pitch frame. 98 total.

Brennan Boesch K'd swinging for the first out of the eighth... but Reds' catcher Tucker Barnhart broke up Scherzer's no-hit bid with an opposite field single with one down. Skip Schumaker followed one out later with an RBI single to center to break up Scherzer's bid for a shutout, 4-1. 15-pitch frame.

Max Scherzer's Line: 8.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 Ks, 113 P, 78 S, 9/2 GO/FO.

4. Finnegan's wake [ed. note - "I am sure no one has ever used this one before."]: Acquired by Cincinnati from Kansas City in the Johnny Cueto trade in late July, left-handed, 2014 Royals' 1st Round pick Brandon Finnegan was (4-1) with a 3.65 ERA, a 5.12 FIP, 17 walks (4.14 BB/9), 36 Ks (8.78 K/9) and a .202/.297/.411 line against in 37 innings pitched before taking the mound this afternoon in the nation's capital.

After working out of the bullpen with the Royals and in his first two appearances with the Reds, Finnegan was moved to a starting role in his last two appearances, both five-inning starts in which he gave up ten hits, three walks and seven runs in a win over the Milwaukee Brewers and a loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Reds' skipper Bryan Price talked to reporters before Finnegan's second start about the adjustments he would need to make as a starter.

"As a starting pitcher," Price explained, "there's a little bit more of a sense of going out and executing pitches and not having to feel like every single pitch you thrown may end up deciding the ballgame.

"You have to understand also early in the game hitters typically aren't as aggressive. You want to work ahead in the count. Coming out of the bullpen, it's quite typically the complete opposite."

"I'd like to see him come out and attack the zone and do what he does naturally. We have yet to have that opportunity to assess him as a major league starting pitcher and over the course of the next couple of weeks we'll have that chance."

His third major league start took place this afternoon in Washington.

It began with a scoreless first in which he worked around a one-out single by Nationals' shortstop Trea Turner (who was caught stealing) in a 13-pitch frame.

Finnegan got Dan Uggla looking to end a 15-pitch second, stranding two runners after a leadoff single by Cint Robinson and a one-out error by Eugenio Suarez at short. 28 total after two.

Max Scherzer singled to right to start the Nats' third and Trea Turner walked with one down, but both runners were stranded at the end of a 19-pitch frame. 47 total.

Tyler Moore reached first on a one-out pop to center that fell in for a hit and scored on an RBI double to right by Matt den Dekker that made it 1-0. Michael Taylor stepped in with two on and two out after a walk to Dan Uggla and Max Scherzer's second hit, and lined an RBI single to right-center to give the Nationals a 2-0 lead. 22-pitch frame for Finnegan, 69 total after four.

WIlson Ramos hit a solo homer out to right for his 15th home run of the season and a 3-0 lead after five. 14-pitch frame for Finnegan, 75 total.

Brandon Finnegan's Line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 83 P, 47 S, 3/6 GO/FO.

3. Random Game Notes: The Reds entered today's game 5-0 against the Nationals this season with wins in five of the last six games in the nation's capital.

• Today's game is the makeup game for July 8th's postponed matchup in Nationals Park, which was washed out by rain.

• Reds' first baseman Joey Votto is trying this season to join a short list of players in major league history to hit at least .300 with 30 home runs and 150 walks. He's currently hitting .318 with 29 home runs and 140 walks. If he gets one more home run and ten walks, he'd be the fourth player to do it, along with Barry Bonds (who did it four times), Ted Williams (three times) and Babe Ruth (twice).

• Votto is also threatening Bryce Harper's standing as the NL OBP leader, which would give him the OBP title in five of the last six years, after pulling within .003 of the lead in the National League. Harper - .467; Votto - .464.

• In today's Reds-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Votto has put up a .377/.554/.660 line... since the All-Star break.

• The Nationals entered today's game 45-35 at home this season, finishing above .500 at home for the fifth straight season.

• Bryce Harper, who was originally scheduled to have the day off, but was given the day off as part of a disciplinary action for his role in yesterday's altercation with Jonathan Papelbon, entered play today ranked first in the NL in AVG (.337), OBP (.467), SLG (.658), runs scored (117), home runs (41, tied) and Wins Above Replacement (9.7 fWAR).

• Max Scherzer, who already set the Nationals' (2005-present) record for strikeouts in a season (249), started the day three shy of his own season-high of 252 Ks set in 2014 with Detroit.

2. Turning Point(s): Matt den Dekker continued his red-hot stretch at the plate, after a 4 for 4, 3-run game on Sunday, with an RBI double to right off Brandon Finnegan in the fourth that drove Tyler Moore in from first to put the Nationals up 1-0 early in their makeup game with the Reds. Michael Taylor followed with a two-out RBI single to the right-center gap to drive in the Nats' second run. 2-0.

• Wilson Ramos took a 3-1 sinker to right and over the out-of-town scoreboard for a solo home run in the fifth that put the Nats up, 3-0. The 15th home run of the year for Ramos left him one shy of his career high.

• The moment Max Scherzer took the mound...

1. The Wrap-Up: Jumbo Diaz took over on the mound for the Reds in the bottom of the sixth and gave up an opposite field home run by Matt den Dekker. 4-0 Nationals.

Anthony Rendon doubled to center to start the Nats' seventh, smoking a 2-2 sinker from Burke Badenhop. Rendon took third on a one-out groundout by Wilson Ramos, but was stranded there.

Matt den Dekker doubled and scored on a sac fly by Reed Johnson in the Nationals' eighth, 5-1.

Matt Thornton came on for the ninth inning and worked around a one-out single, getting a double play to end the game. 5-1 final. Nats' home-half of the 2015 season is over...

Nationals now 80-76