While Bryce Harper hit his National League leading 16th home run of the season tonight against the Philadelphia Phillies (18-26), the story of the night was Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer. Yes, Scherzer was his normal self as he gave up one run in eight innings of work, but he was also the go ahead run that scored on the Ian Desmond RBI double in the sixth that gave the Nats the lead and the win, 2-1. With the win, the Nationals (25-17) have now won six straight games, seven straight home games, and are 18-4 in their last 22 games.
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As for the game, this was the third time this season that Scherzer faced off against Phillies’ starter Sean O’Sullivan. It was the Phillies, however, who got the scoring started in the top of the second. Ryan Howard led off the inning with a double off the wall in right center, his first career hit against Scherzer. Two batters later, with Howard on third, Odubel Herrera hit a double of his own off the wall in center to score Howard and make it 1-0.
That lead would not last long for Ryne Sandberg’s club. Bryce Harper would lead off the bottom of the second by taking a 1-2 pitch the opposite way for his 16th home run of the season, which tied the game at one. It was his third home run this season against O’Sullivan.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, it was Scherzer who got the inning started on a good note. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, he singled to right field for his fourth hit of the year. After Denard Span flew out to right, Ian Desmond would hit one off the wall in center field that scored Scherzer all the way from first. The RBI double by Desmond gave Washington a 2-1 lead.
That would be the last inning for O’Sullivan, who did pitch well in this game. He gave up two runs on five hits in six innings of work, striking out three batters and walked one. However, his record dropped to 1-3 on the season.
The Phillies had their chances against Scherzer as they made a lot of good contact to center field in this game, but give credit to Denard Span for running down most of those fly balls to keep Philly off the bases. All in all, the Phillies were 0-for-8 tonight with runners in scoring position.
As for Scherzer, he did not give up a hit after the third inning. He went eight innings, gave up one run on four hits, struck out six, and walked one on 109 pitches (78 strikes). He has now won four straight starts and has gone seven innings or more in each of his last seven outings.
The Phillies would make Drew Storen work in the top of the ninth inning. Chase Utley would lead off with a walk. After Howard struck out, Maikel Franco hit a ground ball up the middle that bounced off Desmond’s glove for a hit. With the tying and go ahead runs on, Storen got Grady Sizemore to fly out and got Herrera to strike out swinging at a 95 mile per hour fastball out of the zone. It was Storen’s 13th save in 14 chances.
Next Game: The Washington Nationals will look for their seventh straight win tomorrow afternoon against the Phillies at 4:05 PM ET. You can catch the game on MASN. Cole Hamels (4-3, 3.24) gets the start for the Phillies against Stephen Strasburg (3-4, 5.98) for the Nats.