Preceding Thursday's game, the "Battle of the Beltways" had been a one-sided offensive barrage, with the Baltimore Orioles taking the first three games of the four-game home-and-home set in dominating fashion. Thursday's starter, Max Scherzer, was the last man standing in between the Orioles and a sweep.
Scherzer proved to be the stopper the Nationals needed. The Orioles sent 26 batters to the plate in Scherzer's dominant eight inning start, and the Nats' starter sat down 24 of them. The righty finished with a game score of 94, the fourth best start of his career by that measure.
Scherzer, coming off of a start in Atlanta in which the righty allowed six hits and four runs in 6 1/3 innings, was looking for somewhat of a bounce-back start.
On the third pitch of the game, Trea Turner made a running catch in deep center field off the bat of Adam Jones and Scherzer never looked back, not allowing a hit until the fourth inning and pitching shutout ball for eight.
Orioles' starter Ubaldo Jimenez trailed Scherzer closely in an impressive start that would not give the impression that the righty had posted a 6.94 ERA entering the game. Jimenez only allowed five hits and one run over six innings.
Scherzer finished his start with 10 strikeouts and two hits, and Mark Melancon shut the door in a non-save situation.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Leading off the fourth inning, Adam Jones broke up Scherzer's perfect game with a double on a 1-1 pitch. Scherzer stranded Jones on third after inducing two strikeouts and a groundout.
Jayson Werth lead off the Nationals' half of the fourth inning with a first-pitch solo home run to dead center field on a 89 MPH two-seamer from Jimenez, putting the Nationals up 1-0.
In the middle of a seven-pitch fifth inning, Max Scherzer made a between-the-legs grab on a ground ball hit by Jonathan Schoop while facing backwards for the second out.
In his first start since returning from the disabled list, Jose Lobaton hit a line drive down the left field line for a double in the fifth inning on a 1-1 two-seam fastball. Trea Turner advanced Lobaton to third on a swinging bunt single -- then stole his fifteenth base of the season -- but Werth stranded both on a three-pitch strikeout to end the Nationals' half of the fifth.
Scherzer recorded two more 1-2-3 innings in the sixth and seventh, finishing the seventh with 76 pitches.
In the eighth, the Orioles recorded their second hit of the game, a leadoff single from Mark Trumbo on a 2-2 slider. Scherzer stranded Trumbo at second, striking out the next two batters and then inducing a flyout to center field from J.J. Hardy on Scherzer's final pitch of the night.
Scherzer's Line: 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 Ks, 0 HR, 95 P, 72 S, 6/4 GO/FO
With RHP Logan Ondrusek pitching, Trea Turner and Jayson Werth both hit singles to lead off the eighth, and Daniel Murphy scored Turner with a ground-ball double down the first base line off of a 1-0 cutter, advancing Werth to third, which put the Nats up 2-0.
Bryce Harper plated both Werth and Murphy with a line drive double off the bottom of the left field wall on a 1-0 pitch from RHP Mike Wright, doubling the Nationals' lead and putting Washington up 4-0.
Mark Melancon entered the game for the ninth in a non-save situation. Hyun Soo Kim lead off with a double into deep center field, but Melancon retired Pedro Alvarez, and induced a flyout from Steve Pearce, before Manny Machado grounded out to Anthony Rendon for the final out of a 4-0 win for the Nationals.
Nationals now 74-53.
- Before the game, the Nationals optioned RHP Reynaldo Lopez to make space on the roster for newly-acquired LHP Marc Rzepczynski.
- The Nationals sent Minor-League infielder Max Schrock to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Rzepczynski and cash consderations.
- With Wednesday's loss, the Nats lost their fourth straight game for the first time since losing seven straight between June 18-25. It's only the third time this season Washington has lost four or more consecutive games.
- Shortstop Danny Espinosa and second baseman Daniel Murphy's home runs last night brought the total of home runs hit by the Nationals' infielders to 81, third-most among all infields in the National League, and seventh-most in the Majors. The Nationals' middle infielders lead the Major Leagues with 42 combined home runs from the pivot (2B/SS).
- Centerfielder/second baseman Trea Turner matched Hall of Famer Andre Dawson (June 4-7, 1983) and Dmitri Young (May 31-June 1, 2007) with his eighth straight hit on Wednesday night.
- Since joining the Nats at the trade deadline, RHP Mark Melancon has retired 27 of the 33 batters he's faced (entering tonight). Melancon has struck out 10 and has yet to issue a walk.
- Anthony Rendon leads National League third basemen in doubles (32), and ranks third among the group in runs scored (75) and walks (56).
- Since returning from a neck injury, Bryce Harper has hit safely in nine of his last 11 games, and has reached base safely in all 11.
- Before Anthony Rendon's run-scoring double, Britton had not given up an earned run in 41.1 innings, a streak dating from May 5-August 22.