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Washington Nationals blow late lead, lose to St. Louis Cardinals, 8-5: Max Scherzer Ks nine in WPB

Max Scherzer retired 14-straight at one point and ended up with 9 Ks, and Yan Gomes hit his third home run in the last two days... but Sean Doolittle imploded in the ninth.

MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer faced the St. Louis Cardinals in Grapefruit League action on the road last week in Jupiter, FL’s Roger Dean Stadium, giving up six hits, a walk, and three runs, all earned, over 5 13 innings.

This afternoon, the Washington Nationals’ ace was facing the Cardinals again, at home in West Palm Beach’s Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in his fifth outing of the Spring.

Cards’ leadoff man Tommy Edman greeted Scherzer with a hard-hit triple to center on an 0-1 fastball up in the zone that sailed over Wilmer Difo’s head in center, and a 2-0 breaking ball up in the zone to Jose Martinez went through the right side of the infield in the next at bat for an RBI single and a 1-0 Cardinals’ lead.

Scherzer retired the next three batters in order, picking up a K in what ended up being a 12-pitch first, and he struck out the side in another 12-pitch frame in the second, all swinging.

Scherzer set the Cards down in order in a 17-pitch third that left him at 41 pitches total after three with nine straight retired, and he was up to 12-straight batters set down after a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth, then he retired two in the fifth before giving up a bloop single to center by Evan Mendoza that ended that streak. He stranded the runner, however, and wrapped up a 16-pitch fifth at 69 pitches overall.

A one-out single in the top of the sixth inning gave the Cards four hits total off Scherzer on the day, but he struck one-time Nationals’ prospect Max Schrock out for his 8th K overall in 5 23 IP, and wrapped up his outing with another swinging K on a 2-2 slider off the plate that Tyler O’Neill chased: 9 Ks, 86 pitches.

O-ffense: Yan Gomes hit two home runs yesterday, and this afternoon he unloaded on a 3-2 fastball from Cards’ lefty Austin Gomber and sent his third homer in two days and fourth of the Spring onto the concourse beyond the left field fence to tie things up at 1-1 in the home-half of the second.

Gomes hit an 0-1 fastball from Gomber the other way for a single in the Nationals’ half of the fourth, sending Brian Dozier around to third after he’d taken a leadoff walk. Wilmer Difo hit a soft pop to right on an 0-2 pitch in the next at bat and it fell in for an RBI single that put the Nationals on top, 2-1.

Gomes took third on the hit, and Max Scherzer moved Difo to second base with a sac bunt, setting Trea Turner up runners in scoring position, both of whom scored on Turner’s double to left-center, 4-1.

Turner took third on a groundout by Adam Eaton, and scored on a wild pitch from Gomber, 5-1.

Gomes was 3 for 3 on the day after singling to start the bottom of the sixth, and done for the day after six innings of work.

Bullpen Action: Kyle Barraclough got the eight after Scherzer’s day was done, and he gave up a solo home run to right on a fastball up in the zone to Nolan Gorman, who flat crushed the pitch, 5-2. Randy Arozarena hit a hanging 2-2 slider out to left field in the next at bat, 5-3. Vidal Nuño took over for Barraclough with two down and got the final out of the inning.

Trevor Rosenthal hit 99 on the radar gun in the eighth, working around a one-out single and walk in a scoreless inning of work, and he hit 102 on the MASN gun with his 21st pitch of the inning. 102.

Sean Doolittle got the ninth and gave up a leadoff single and two-out RBI double, 5-4, and after issuing a two-out walk on his 22nd pitch of the inning, a Max Schrock bloop single to right tied it, 5-5.

Andrew Knizner followed with a three-run home run on a fastball down and inside that went out to left field, 8-5.

Austen Williams took over and recorded the final out of the inning, and the Nationals came up empty in the home-half of the ninth.