Max Scherzer took the mound in Philadelphia with a 2-0 lead courtesy of an RBI double by Bryce Harper and an RBI single by Wilson Ramos in the top of the first, and set 13 in a row down before issuing a one-out walk in the fifth.
Scherzer took a no-hit bid into the sixth, with a 3-0 lead, before Freddy Galvis doubled on a line drive to right on an 0-2 fastball to spoil it.
Scherzer’s bid for a shutout ended on a Ryan Howard home run in the seventh, a two-run blast on an 0-1 fastball that made it a one-run game, 3-2.
That’s as close as the Phillies would get, however, as Scherzer went eight strong on 102 pitches, striking out 11 batters, and the Washington Nationals’ 3-2 win was their eighth straight over their divisional rivals.
Here’s how it happened:
Daniel Murphy doubled by the third base bag on what could generously be called a line drive, but it was more like a sliced, floating, spinner that fell in for Murphy’s 38th two-base hit with two down in the Nationals’ first.
Bryce Harper followed with his 20th on a first-pitch fastball from Philly right-hander Jerad Eichkoff, driving Murphy in with a liner to center that bounced off the base of the outfield wall, 1-0.
Murphy’s 38th double matched his season total from 2015.
Anthony Rendon walked to bring Wilson Ramos up, and the Nats’ catcher singled to center to bring Harper in for a 2-0 lead after one inning in Citizens Bank Park.
Ryan Zimmerman walked with one out in the fourth, took third on a line drive single to right by Danny Espinosa and scored on a safety squeeze when Max Scherzer dropped a bunt down the first base line, 3-0 Nationals.
Danny Espinosa tried to score on a single to right by Trea Turner in the next at bat, but he was out at home after he lowered his shoulder into Phillies’ catcher Cameron Rupp in a truly old-school collision at the plate.
Scherzer was stomping around the mound early tonight in CBP, striking out four of the first six batters he faced in two scoreless and hitless frame.
He was up to six Ks after he added two in a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 third innings that left him at 30 pitches total after three. His nine-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth gave Scherzer four hitless innings.
A one-out walk in the fifth spoiled Scherzer’s bid for perfection, but he set the next two down in a 14-pitch frame that left him at 53 pitches after five hitless frames.
Freddy Galvis doubled to right on an 0-2 fastball in the first at bat of the Philly sixth, however, spoiling Scherzer’s bid for a third career no-hitter.
He did complete six scoreless, however, on just 67 pitches.
Scherzer lost his bid for a shutout in the bottom of the seventh when Ryan Howard hit an opposite field blast to left-center on an 0-1 fastball for a two-run homer that made it a 3-2 game.
Scherzer came back out for the eighth and retired the Phillies in order, adding two Ks for 11 total on the night.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 8.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 Ks, 1 HR, 102 P, 69 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
Mark Melancon came on looking for save No. 37 of 2016 and worked around a leadoff walk for a scoreless frame. Ballgame. 3-2 final.
Nationals now 77-55
- Washington’s 76-55 record after last night’s win is the second-best in the NL, behind only the Chicago Cubs’ 83-47 record.
- The Nationals’ +139 run differential is the second-best in the majors as well, behind only, again, the Cubs’ +218.
- The Phillies have dropped seven straight to the Nationals after last night’s loss and four straight in Citizens Bank Park.
- Phillies’ pitchers have a 5.93 ERA over the course of their seven-game losing streak to the Nationals, and Philly hitters have been held to a combined .184 AVG (40 for 217).
- Jerad Eickhoff, tonight’s starter, has walked just six batters in his last eight starts and 46 ⅔ IP (1.16 BB/9).
- Eickhoff has averaged 2.02 BB/9 so far this season, the lowest BB/9 by a Phillies’ starter since Cliff Lee’s 1.29 BB/9 in 2013.
- Wilson Ramos hit his 20th home run of the season on Sunday, making him the 4th National to reach that mark along with Daniel Murphy (25), Bryce Harper (23) and Danny Espinosa (20).
- Trea Turner extended his on-base streak to 19-straight games last night, and he has hits in 17 of 19, with a .398 AVG (35 for 88) over that stretch, with five doubles, two triples, three home runs, nine steals and 21 runs scored.
- Bryce Harper has reached base in 16-straight, with a .458 OBP over his last 16 games.
- In today’s “Fun with Arbitrary End Points” segment: Bryce Harper is 22 for 61 (.361 AVG) with six doubles, a triple, three home runs, 11 walks and 13 runs scored since returning to the lineup on 8/14.
- Daniel Murphy starts the night leading the NL in AVG (.345), SLG (.606), OPS (.994), doubles (tied, 37) and multi-hit games (51).
Nationals now 77-55