Braves get to Scherzer in ninth as Washington Nationals drop series
By Pablo Roa
Fresh off his second straight NL Pitcher of the Month recognition, Washington Nationals starter Max Scherzer gave his team yet anther stellar pitching performance Thursday night. But Scherzer’s brilliant effort wasn’t enough for the Nationals, as the Braves rallied against him and walked off in the bottom of the ninth inning, winning the game, 2-1, and securing a series win over the Nationals.
Scherzer was spectacular for the first eight innings of the game, allowing one run on three hits while striking out nine batters. For the most part, tonight’s game was just another day at the office for Scherzer, who has now pitched at least eight innings six times this season and in four starts in a row.
Scherzer’s only blemish came in the fifth inning. Juan Uribe led off the frame with a double to left. Later in the inning, Andrelton Simmons brought him home with an RBI single to left, giving Atlanta a 1-0 lead.
Unfortunately for Scherzer, the Nationals’ offense wasn’t able to do much of anything against Braves starter Manny Banuelos.
Banuelos dominated the Nationals all night long, allowing no runs on two hits while striking out seven batters in 5 2/3 innings. The Nationals finally scored their first run well after Manuelos left the game, against Braves reliever David Aardsma.
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Bryce Harper led off the top of the seventh inning with a double to center field. Wilson Ramos then followed up with a single to right, scoring Harper from second and tying the game at 1-1.
But that was all the offense the Nationals could muster, and the Braves had the final say in the bottom of the ninth as Atlanta finally managed to rally against Scherzer.
With Scherzer at 97 pitches and two relievers warmed up in the ‘pen, manager Matt Williams decided to keep his ace in the game and Scherzer went back to the mound in the bottom of the ninth. But things didn’t go as Scherzer or Williams hoped. Pedro Ciriaco led off the inning with a single and advanced to second base on a bunt by Jace Peterson. Cameron Maybin then singled to left field, scoring the game-winning run for Atlanta.
It was a rough ending to a brilliant start for Scherzer, and it’s possible that Williams left him in the game an inning more than he should have. Either way, it’s hard to win a game when you only score one run, as the Nationals proved tonight.
Next Game: Gio Gonzalez and the Nationals look to get Independence Day Weekend started on a high note tomorrow night, as Washington returns home to face the San Francisco Giants in a rematch of last year’s NLDS. Jake Peavy takes the mound for the Giants, with first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. ET.