Max Scherzer started the night leading the National League in home runs allowed, and he was facing a team in the San Diego Padres that had a 20-game home run streak going as a team.
Over his last four starts before tonight's, however, he'd managed to keep the ball in the yard, allowing just one home run in 27 ⅓ innings pitched.
Over that stretch, the 31-year-old All-Star had a 0.66 ERA, seven walks, 33 Ks and a .158/.229/.232 line against, going (2-1) in those outings.
Scherzer was facing the Padres for the second time this season in the second game of three with San Diego in D.C. tonight, after having given up four hits and a run in six innings of work in Petco Park in mid-June, with the one run coming on a solo blast by Wil Myers.
He struck out 10 in that outing, but received no decision in what ended up a 7-3 loss for the Nationals.
This time out, Scherzer gave up a two-run home run early, his 22nd home run allowed, which gave the Padres home runs in 21-straight, but he held San Diego to just those two runs in seven innings, striking 10 in what ended up a 3-2 win in which he received no decision.
Padres' second baseman Ryan Schimpf hit a 2-0 fastball from Scherzer out for a two-run home run in the second.
Schimpf's 8th bounced off the facade of the second deck above the right field bullpen, putting the Padres up 2-0, and extending San Diego's streak of games with a home run as a team to 21-straight.
Ben Revere walked with one down in the Nationals' half of the third and went first-to-third on a single to left-center off Padres' starter Edwin Jackson by Jayson Werth in the next at bat.
Daniel Murphy stepped in with runners on the corners and lined out sharply to right for an RBI single that made it 2-1 Padres after three.
Danny Espinosa doubled to right field (No. 11) to start the Nationals' half of the fifth, moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Scherzer and scored on a line drive double to right by Ben Revere to tie it up at 2-2.
Max Scherzer's Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 99 P, 71 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
Edwin Jackson's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 87 P, 50 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
Jose Dominguez took over for the Padres in the seventh, and retired the Nationals in order.
Shawn Kelley came on in the top of the eighth, working around a two-out triple for a scoreless, 16-pitch frame.
Padres' lefty Ryan Buchter walked Wilson Ramos with two down, but completed a scoreless eighth.
Jonathan Papelbon took over in the top of the ninth, in a non-save situation and gave up a line drive double to left by Matt Kemp that bounced off the base of the wall, but three outs later Kemp was still standing on second.
Kevin Quackenbush came on to try to keep the Nationals from walking off. Anthony Rendon lined a single to right for his second hit of the game in the first at bat of the inning and scored on a one-out, walk-off triple by Stephen Drew, 3-2 final. Ballgame.
Nationals now 58-40
- With last night's win, San Diego improved to 41-33 against Washington in the all-time series between the two teams (2005-present), though the Nationals have a 19-12 record against the Padres since 2012 and they haven't lost a series to the Padres in that time.
- Heading into tonight's matchup, the Nationals' 57-40 record on the year was the third best in the majors, behind onlt the Giants (57-39) and Cubs (58-37), and their 14-8 record over their last 22 games was the NL's best over that stretch.
- Jayson Werth homered last night, extending his on-base streak to 26-straight games.
- Wilson Ramos started the night with a 10-game hit streak going, over which the Nationals' catcher 14 for 42 (.333 AVG) with a double, four runs batted in and two walks.
- Daniel Murphy started the night with a nine-game hit streak, over which he's 13 for 34 (.382 AVG) with five doubles, five home runs, 14 runs batted in and seven scored over that stretch.
- In today's Padres-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: San Diego closer Brandon Maurer earned his first career four-out save last night and he's put up a 1.06 ERA, two walks, 21 Ks and a .164 BAA over his last 16 games going back to June 11th.
- The first Matt Kemp's two home runs last night gave the Padres home runs in 20-straight games the longest stretch in the National League this season and the second-longest in the majors, behind only the Boston Red Sox' streak of 22-straight games with home runs.
- Kemp has now homered in five of his last six games with six home runs overall over that stretch.
- In a bonus Padres-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: San Diego is 22-22 over their last 44 games, with 231 runs scored over that stretch, which leads all NL teams over that stretch and ranks fourth in the majors.
Nationals now 58-40