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Washington Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer throws complete game shutout in Nats’ 2-0 win over Atlanta Braves...

Max Scherzer helped bring an end to the Nationals’ five-game losing streak with a dominant outing on the mound in Monday’s series opener against the Braves in the nation’s capital...

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer tossed six scoreless against the Cincinnati Reds in the season opener, then struggled in a less successful outing against the Atlanta Braves in start No. 2 of 2018, with six hits, two walks, and five runs allowed (two earned) over five innings on the mound in SunTrust Park.

Scherzer struck out seven of 24 batters in his second outing, giving him 17 total Ks (13.91 K/9) in 11 innings before Monday night.

He talked after the 7-1 loss in Atlanta about Braves’ hitters grinding out at bats and how he struggled to put them away after getting to two strikes.

“Kudos to them to grinding me apart, understanding what I’m trying to do,” Scherzer told reporters last week, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.

“Here we go next time out, face them again. We’ll make some adjustments and go right back after them. This is what happens when you face divisional teams this much.”

That outing left the 33-year-old right-hander (6-4) with a 3.86 ERA in 12 career starts against the Braves, with two earned runs or fewer allowed in seven of those twelve appearances.

Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said he was impressed with Scherzer’s work before and after each of his starts on Monday afternoon, and he’s had an up-close look at all the work the three-time Cy Young award winner puts in before he takes the mound.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

“He goes out there every day with a game plan,” Martinez told reporters before the series opener in D.C.

“He studies hitters better than anybody I’ve ever seen. Even though he faced them a couple days ago, he was back in there ... already studying [hitters] and who he thought he might face today. He’s a workaholic, man. He loves it, and I love watching him go out there every fifth day and pitch.”

“He goes out there and he wants to strike everybody out,” Martinez continued, “that’s the mentality he has, ‘Nobody should get a hit off me’ and that’s how he approaches it every day.”

Scherzer’s 13th career outing against Atlanta started with five scoreless on 60 pitches, and he got through six on 70, seven on 82, eight on 92, and went back out for the ninth and got through that inning too, finishing up at 102 total, with 10 Ks, two hits allowed, and no walks surrendered in the complete game win.

Scherzer retired 22 of the final 23 batters he faced in a dominant outing that also snapped a five-game losing streak for the Nationals.

“Max being Max,” Martinez said as he began his post game press conference. “He was just throwing strikes. Really. He was attacking the strike zone all game long, and when he does that he’s very effective.”

Asked what was different from the previous start against the Braves, Martinez reiterated that it was about getting ahead in the count early.

“My biggest thing from this time to last time was strike one,” he explained.

“When he attacks the strike zone like that, he’s tough. He’s tough all the time, but when he can do that and control the strike zone like he did, he’s really tough.”

Scherzer needed 110 pitches to get through five innings in Atlanta, but he was much more efficient this time out, which he said was at least in part due to the Braves’ hitters, and also the result of a mechanical change he made.

“Just tried to make a little mechanical tweak tonight, but really the biggest thing was that on the first pitch, 0-0, I collected a lot of first-pitch outs,” Scherzer told reporters.

“They were aggressive early in the count, and when you’re able to get outs on 0-0, that’s what keeps your pitch count down and allows you to keep going out there deep into a game.

“So, some of that is just them hitting the ball right at them.”

Martinez said that he looked at the pitch count as the game went along and decided that he could let Scherzer go all the way.

“Right about the sixth inning he had 70 pitches, so we thought, ‘Hey, as long as he feels strong we’ll keep him out there,’ and he came out the eighth inning and said, ‘Yeah, I feel good.’ I did get [Sean] Doolittle up just in case, but [Scherzer] was rolling.”

“I think when I finished the seventh I saw the pitch count was still down, and I knew at least I had a chance to keep going,” Scherzer said. “It was a 2-0 ballgame, a bloop and a blast away from that thing being tied, and that’s a good enough team. They showed it to you last time I faced them that they can get me, so you just have to continue to execute pitches against everybody, and that was a good game tonight.”

His low pitch count was at least in part, he repeated, a result of the Braves’ approach.

“They made some outs early in the counts, that’s the reason why,” Scherzer said. “I’m more proud that I didn’t walk anybody. When you don’t walk any people it always gives your defense a chance to collect outs, and keeps them from having a big inning without doing anything. That’s huge when you can manage your free passes.”