After getting off to a 2-6 start, the Washington Nationals have now won three games in a row for the first time this year. Tonight, they beat the Philadelphia Phillies by a final score of 7-2. Max Scherzer was dominant in his third start as a National and the offense gave him some instant run support right out of the gate to help him get his first win. However, Washington did have one of its key players at the top of the order leave the game early with a groin injury.
In the bottom of the first inning, Yunel Escobar led off the inning with a single. Later in the inning, after Ian Desmond was hit by a pitch, Bryce Harper would hit his second home run off of starter Sean O’Sullivan in less than a week. O’Sullivan left a curveball over the plate and Harper drilled it to center field for his third home run of the season to give the Nats an early 3-0 lead.
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It was all the runs that Max Scherzer would need in this one. The only inning that the Phillies were able to score against him was the third inning. After O’Sullivan struck out, Odubel Herrera hit a triple off the wall in right field. Herrera, who had two hits tonight, would score on a RBI groundout to second base by Freddy Galvis.
Scherzer had all of his pitches working in this one. He went eight innings, gave up one earned run on four hits, and struck out nine batters on 100 pitches. Plus, he retired 22 of the final 25 batters he faced. In three starts, Scherzer has a 0.83 ERA and 25 strikeouts.
Danny Espinosa would continue his success at the plate from the left side as he led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a solo shot to center. His second home run of the season put the Nationals up by three.
While the offense was great tonight for Washington, they are now wondering how long one of their key players will be out for. Yunel Escobar left the game after the bottom of the fourth inning as he held his groin after running out a groundball. Danny Espinosa would move over to third base and Dan Uggla played second for the remainder of the game.
The Nationals would add two key insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Jake Diekman entered the game for Jeanmar Gomez to face Bryce Harper. Harper had great plate discipline in the at-bat and worked a two-out walk. With Desmond on second (infield single) and Harper on first, Ryan Zimmerman would come thru with a two-run double down the left field line to make it 6-1. He would later score on an infield single by Wilson Ramos.
The defense was much improved by the Nats in this one as there were great plays by Ryan Zimmerman on a bunt pop-up by O’Sullivan in the fifth and Dan Uggla took a hit away from Chase Utley in the sixth.
However, Ian Desmond would record an error in the seventh inning, his seventh of the season. Tonight, the error was only a footnote as Desmond went 3-for-4 and two runs scored. Michael Taylor also recorded his second error of the season.
For the second time this week, the Nationals had a pitcher make their Major League debut out of the bullpen. Tonight, it was lefty Felipe Rivero. Rivero pitched the ninth inning, gave up one run on three hits, and struck out two.
Next Game: The Washington Nationals (5-6) will be back in action tomorrow afternoon against the Phillies (3-8) at 1:05 PM ET on MASN as they look to get their record back to .500. Jordan Zimmermann (1-1, 8.64) will look to rebound after his rough outing against the Red Sox on Monday. He will be facing Aaron Harang (1-1, 0.73).