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Max Scherzer wins fifth straight start as Washington Nationals make it three in a row...

Max Scherzer held the Pirates to two runs on three hits in 6 1⁄3 IP in the Nationals’ 12-4 win in the nation’s capital.

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Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Max Scherzer took the mound on Tuesday night looking for his sixth win in seven starts and his fifth straight win overall this season.

In four straight wins before he faced off against the Pittsburgh Pirates, after he suffered his only loss thus far in 2018, the 33-year-old righty had a 1.61 ERA, six walks (1.93 BB/9), 40 Ks (12.86 K/9), and a .128/.196/.245 line against in 28 innings pitched.

Scherzer held the San Francisco Giants to five hits, two walks, and two earned runs in six innings on the mound in AT&T Park last time out before facing the Bucs, striking out 10 of the 25 batters he faced in a 99-pitch effort.

The key(s) to his success in that outing? “I attacked the zone,” Scherzer said. “First-pitch strikes were up, didn’t fall behind too many guys.”

Scherzer fell behind two of three batters in the first on Tuesday, but retired the side in order and limited the Pirates to a walk and two hits through five scoreless on 79 pitches as the Nats hit four home runs off Pittsburgh starter Chad Kuhl and jumped out to a 6-0 lead.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Scherzer helped his own cause with a two-out RBI single in the sixth, 7-0, and the Nationals added four runs off righty Tyler Glasnow, 11-0, and were up 12-0 when he took the mound in the top of the seventh and gave up a leadoff walk and two-run home run.

Scherzer retired one batter in the seventh inning before he was done for the night.

Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks, 1 HR, 106 P, 71 S, 4/3 GO/FO.

“I was attacking the zone, worked ahead of guys,” Scherzer told reporters after earning his fifth straight win.

“When we needed shutdown innings,” he said, “I feel like that’s what I can really hang my hat on, is I put up the zeroes when I needed to, was able to pitch with all four pitches, in and away, and that’s what you can do, when you go out there and you put up zeroes and you give your offense a chance, good things happen.”

The offense provided plenty of support too, obviously.

“[Wilmer] Difo got it started with the solo shot,” Scherzer said. “I was able to get a goose egg, and then [Matt] Adams got another one, 2-0, another shutdown inning, got in there and then the offense just exploded there in the fifth, did a great job again in the sixth.

“Just all those insurance runs they add up, they just make it great to go out there and compete and that’s what our offense has been needing.

“Multiple guys, the lineup just keeps turning over, and guys just keep hitting.”

Scherzer said he went back out for the seventh inning, even though it was a 12-0 game at that point, because he wanted to test himself.

“Even though the game was out of hand, this was a chance to go out there and face some good hitters and see what I had when I was fatigued, and go out there and compete in that situation, and obviously I came up on the wrong end of that where I walked a guy and gave up a home run, but that’s something I can learn from. Being in that situation, pitching when you’re fatigued, even though I didn’t get the job done today, that’s something I can learn from and get better at so that when I do get in that situation, I can execute pitches better.”