Washington’s Nationals were trailing 2-0 in the top of the eighth and were up to 16 innings without a run going back to the ninth inning of the series opener in LA, when skipper Davey Martinez’s squad busted out of that scoreless inning streak with a five-run frame in which Juan Soto battled left-hander Scott Alexander for nine pitches before sending an RBI single to left and Gerardo Parra hit a grand slam to center off Dylan Floro that put the visiting team up 5-2.
Scherzer vs the Dodgers: Winless in five starts with a 4.05 ERA, four walks, 44 strikeouts, and a .271/.292/.414 line against in 33 1⁄3 IP over those outings, Max Scherzer took on the Dodgers tonight looking to snap that streak, which stretched back to an April 7th win over the New York Mets.
On the mound in LA, the Nationals’ ace worked around a hit-by-pitch in the first, and got out of a first and second, no-out jam in the second, but a two-out walk in the Dodgers’ third was followed by a two-run homer by Justin Turner, on a 2-1 heater Scherzer grooved, right down the pipe and out to center for a 2-0 lead. Turner’s 6th of 2019.
Alex Verdugo worked the count full and doubled to right to start the bottom of the fourth, but he was stranded at second three outs later.
Scherzer got through five innings on 87 pitches, striking out five of the 22 batters he faced, retired the Dodgers in order in a 15-pitch sixth that left him at 102 total, and returned in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 13-pitch frame that left him at 115 pitches overall with a total of seven Ks from 29 batters.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 115 P, 75 S, 5/4 GO/FO.
Buehler vs the Nationals: Walker Buehler was unbeaten in seven outings heading into the third of four with the Nationals in Dodger Stadium, with a (4-0) record, a 4.95 ERA, 3.62 FIP, nine walks, 32 Ks, and a .231/.283/.366 line against in 36 1⁄3 IP.
Buehler worked his way out of an early jam in the first, when a check-swing single by Adam Eaton and a bunt single by Victor Robles, on which the Dodgers’ committed an error set the Nationals up with runners on second and third with no one out. Juan Soto walked in the next at bat, but Robles apparently thought the bases were loaded, so he wandered towards third after ball four to Soto and got picked off by Dodgers’ catcher Austin Barnes. A fly ball to short right and swinging K followed.
Buehler tossed three scoreless on 48 pitches, and took the mound in the fourth with a 2-0 lead and worked around a leadoff double by Anthony Rendon.
After striking out the side in a 15-pitch fifth, Buehler retired the side in order in a five-pitch sixth, completing six scoreless on 82 pitches, and a 1-2-3 top of the seventh had him up to 12 straight batters retired and 97 pitches overall after seven scoreless, with 12-straight outs to end his start.
Walker Buehler’s Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 97 P, 66 S, 7/4 GO/FO.
Soto Still Streaking: Juan Soto missed 10 games on the IL with back spasms, but returned to the lineup tonight with a 15-game on-base streak going, over which the 20-year-old was 14 for 57 (.246/.358/.474) with a double, four home runs, nine walks, and 16 Ks in 67 PAs.
In his first at bat back, the Nationals’ left field had runners on second and third with no outs, and he worked the count full and walked, though Victor Robles got picked off second base thinking that it was a bases-loaded walk.
Soto K’d swinging the second time up against Walker Buehler, 0 for 1, BB, and he lined out to the warning track in left in his sixth-inning at bat.
With the bases loaded in the eighth, Soto stepped in against Dodgers’ lefty Scott Alexander with one out and a .235/.297/.559 line against left-handers on the year and fell behind 1-2 in the at bat, but battled for nine pitches, fouling off a total of six pitches before sending an RBI single out to left to make it a one-run game, 2-1 LA.
BULLPEN ACTION: Washington’s streak of 12-straight outs ended with a leadoff single by Wilmer Difo in the top of the eighth, after Pedro Báez took over on the mound for LA, and Howie Kendrick reached on an error by Justin Turner in the next at bat, putting runners on the corners with no one out.
Adam Eaton’s bunt moved Kendrick’s pinch runner, Michael A. Taylor, over to second, and a walk to Victor Robles loaded them up and ended Báez’s outing.
Scott Alexander came on to face Juan Soto, lefty vs lefty, and got ahead 1-2 but couldn’t put Soto away, losing a nine-pitch battle that ended with an RBI single to left field that made it a 2-1 game.
Dylan Floro was the third pitcher in the eighth for the Dodgers, and he went to a full count with Anthony Rendon and threw a two-seamer way inside that got the Nats’ third baseman swinging for out No. 2. Gerardo Parra stepped in next (0 for 3, 1 K) and hit a grand slam to center field, 5-2 Nationals.
Wander Suero took the mound with a three-run lead and retired the side in order in an 11-pitch inning.
Sean Doolittle came on in the ninth looking for save No. 6 of 2019, and retired the side in order to end it. Ballgame, 5-2 Nats.
Nationals now 16-23