On a day where all the talk around the Washington Nationals (80-76) had been about yesterday’s events involving Jonathan Papelbon and Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer (13-12, 2.91 ERA) tried his best to change the conversation. The Nats’€™ ace was five outs away from his second no-hitter of the season, but he still put up a great start against the Cincinnati Reds (63-93). Plus, the offense hit two home runs today in a 4-1 win to close out the 2015 home campaign.
The Nationals got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning against Reds’ starter, Brandon Finnegan (4-2, 3.86). After a one-out bloop single by Tyler Moore, Matt den Dekker hit a double down the right field line. Although he was thrown out at third on the play, Moore was still about to score to put the Nats up 1-0. Later in the inning, Dan Uggla drew a walk and Max Scherzer’€™s infield single with two outs kept the inning alive for Michael Taylor, who would hit a base hit to right to drive in Uggla and increase the lead to 2-0.
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Then, one inning later, the home runs started to happen for the offense. With two outs, Wilson Ramos hit a 3-1 sinker from Finnegan over the wall in right center for a solo shot. His 15th of the season put the Nats up 3-0. The lead would go to 4-0 in the bottom of the sixth when Matt den Dekker hit a leadoff home run on a 1-2 fastball by Jumbo Diaz over the fence in left center for his fifth home run of the season.
Those four runs would be plenty for Scherzer, who had all of his pitches working today. Scherzer took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before Tucker Barnhart singled to left field with one out. Two batters later, with Barnhart on second, Skip Schumaker broke up the shutout with a base hit to center field. Nevertheless, the Nats’€™ ace was on point today as he went eight innings, gave up one run on two hits, struck out ten batters, and walked three on 113 pitches (78 strikes).
Even when Scherzer came out of the game, the offense found a way to get an insurance run in the eighth inning. den Dekker, who was 3-for-4 today, led off the inning with a double to right. The Nats’ right fielder is 7-for-8 in his last two games with five runs scored, two home runs, and three RBI’s. He would eventually score when Reed Johnson (pinch-hitting for Scherzer) hit a sacrifice fly to center to put the Nationals in front, 5-1.
Matt Williams would send Matt Thornton to the mound to pitch the top of the ninth inning. Even though he gave up a leadoff single to Joey Votto, Thornton got Todd Frazier to fly out to right and Jay Bruce to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end he game. This is the first win the Nats have had against the Reds this season.
Next Game: The Washington Nationals will begin a three game series tomorrow night against the Atlanta Braves (62-94) at Turner Field at 7:10 PM ET. You can watch the game on MASN. Matt Wisler (6-8, 5.40) gets the start for the Braves against Tanner Roark (4-6, 4.76) for the Nats.