Max Scherzer got roughed up a little bit and left early, but the bullpen and offense bailed him out and the Washington Nationals came back to beat the Colorado Rockies 5-4 at the atrocity against baseball (Coors Field) in Denver.
Jayson Werth got whatever drama there was about his on-base streak out of the way in the first inning. After Trea Turner swung through a breaking ball for strike three, Werth drew a base on balls from Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa.
With the walk, Werth has reached base safely in a career-high 43 straight games, the longest on-base streak in MLB this season, and ties Ryan Zimmerman (April 8-May 25, 2009) as the longest in Nats history.
Unfortunately, the Nats (70-47) wasted two walks in the first, then the Rockies jumped all over Scherzer. With one out, DJ LeMahieu blooped a single to right. Scherzer then walked Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado — pitching delicately — to load the bases.
Rookie David Dahl followed with a booming double to center on a hanging slider to plate two runs. Daniel Descalso cashed Arenado in from third in on a sacrifice fly, and the Rockies led 3-0 after one inning — with Scherzer tossing 35 pitches, just 19 for strikes.
The Nats cut into the deficit in the third. Scherzer led off with a soft line-drive single to center. Trea Turner flied to deep center, but Werth clobbered a first-pitch cutter to left, which reached the concourse above 20 rows on one bounce.
Charlie Blackmon struck in the fourth. Scherzer’s changeup found too much of the plate and Blackmon golfed it out to right for his 21st homer of the season — and ninth since Aug. 6. In that period Blackmon is hitting .548/.578/1.238.
Scherzer was up to 96 pitches after a 30-pitch fourth. Wilmer Difo pinch-hit for him to lead off the fifth, ending his night and shortest outing of the season. Scherzer allowed four earned runs on seven hits, two walks and a homer with just three strikeouts.
Difo drew a walk and went to third on Werth’s one-out, line-drive single to right. Daniel Murphy served one through the hole in the shift between short and third and Difo walked home to make it 4-3. Harper walked to load the bases, but Anthony Rendon lined to third and Harper thought it was on the ground and was picked off as first to end the threat.
Washington tied it in the sixth on Wilson Ramos’ 19th homer of the season, a high fly to right that just kept carrying in the rarefied Denver air.
Then in the seventh, Turner led off with a single against reliever Jordan Lyles, then stole second base (11th out of 12 tries). Werth flied out just short of the track in right center, and Turner hustled to third. After a pitching change, Murphy drew a four-pitch walk from lefty Boone Logan and Harper followed with a ground-ball double to right, plating Turner easily.
The Nats could have had more, but after Ramos was intentionally walked, Danny Espinosa swung through on an inside fastball to kill the rally.
Sammy Solis and Blake Treinen both got inning-ending double plays, Shawn Kelley struck out two in a perfect eighth inning and Mark Melancon had a four-pitch, 1-2-3 ninth for the save.
WP: Solis (2-3) LP: Lyles (3-4) SV: Melancon (34) HR: Werth (16), Ramos (19), Blackmon (21) E: None.
NEXT GAME: Tuesday at 8:40 p.m. ET. Gio Gonzalez (8-9, 4.24) faces Chad Bettis (10-6, 5.27).
- The Nationals opened a three-city, nine-game road trip in Denver and continue their stretch of 20 games in 20 days. They’ll continue on to Atlanta for four games before concluding in Baltimore for a pair to open the Beltway Series.
- Harper singled in the eighth for his third hit of the game. It was his first three-hit game since June 8 and he reached five times including walks, the first time he’s reached that many times since the six-walk game against the Cubs on May 8.
- Ryan Zimmerman and Jose Lobaton started a rehab assignment with AAA Syracuse on Monday. Zimmerman was 2 for 4 with a home run, a walk, and two RBIs and Lobaton went 2 for 4 with a walk in an 8-1 win over Toledo.
- Turner posted his 12th multi-hit game of the season (out of 27 total games) on Sunday with a double and a single, continuing his torrid stretch.
- During Werth’s on-base stretch, the veteran has collected 38 hits (13 doubles, 5 homers) & 30 walks (.378 OBP).
- Sunday’s outing was the 15th time (in 24 starts this season) that Tanner Roark has pitched at least seven innings. Only Max Scherzer (16) and Chicago’s Chris Sale (16) have pitched at least seven innings more often than Roark this season.