Max Scherzer Delivers Gutsy Performance But Washington Nationals Fall Short
By Chris Lacey
The Washington Nationals saw a gutsy performance from Max Scherzer, but the team came up short against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies broke through in the first inning, as outfielder Andres Blanco hit a two-run home run off Scherzer. This was the first homer of the season for him. They were threatening to score again in the second inning, but Scherzer ended that chance with back-to-back strikeouts to keep them off the board.
The Nationals received a leadoff double from Daniel Murphy in the bottom part of the second and moved over to third, due to a wild pitch. He scored thanks to a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt by Danny Espinosa in their second half of the second frame.
The Phillies got a leadoff walk in the third inning, but nothing materialized from it.
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The Nats had two men on base with two outs in their half of the third, but Ryan Zimmerman popped out in foul territory to end the inning.
The Phillies got a leadoff walk from Ryan Howard and a double by Cameron Rupp to begin the fourth. Howard was out on a force play, but second baseman Cesar Hernandez hit a single to left field which scored Rupp.
Scherzer limited the damage by striking out Velasquez and forcing Peter Bourjos to fly out.
The Phillies started the fifth inning with consecutive singles by Odubel Herrera and Blanco. However, Maikel Franco grounded into a double play, and Howard struck out, as Scherzer escaped danger once more.
Scherzer helped himself out in the bottom of the fifth with a one-out single to center field and then Michael Taylor walked to put runners on first and second. Anthony Rendon grounded into a force out, but Bryce Harper and Zimmerman hit a pair of singles to tie the game at three.
Call to the Pen
The Phillies had a chance to take the lead in the sixth with two runners in scoring position and two outs, but Scherzer fanned Bourjos on pitch no .116 to keep them off the board.
The Nats went down in order in their part of the sixth, as Velasquez struck out two of three batters he faced.
Oliver Perez started the seventh inning strong, by striking out Herrera. However, Blanco hit a one-out double, and Franco lined a double in left field to score him.
The Nats brought in Shawn Kelley to prevent further damage, and he was phenomenal, as indicated by the reliever forcing Darin Ruf to pop out and Rupp to ground out.
In the Nats part of the seventh, Taylor singled with one out and stole second base. Then Rendon flew out to right field; the Phillies intentionally walked Harper and Zimmerman struck out looking.
Matt Belisle retired the only batter he faced in the top of the eighth, as he left because of an injury. Felipe Rivero came in relief of Belisle and retired two hitters on just seven pitches.
Murphy began the Nats part of the eighth inning with a leadoff walk, but Jayson Werth lined out to left field for the first out, followed by Espinosa and Jose Lobaton striking out.
The Phillies had a runner on first with two outs but weren’t able to tack on any insurance runs.
The Nats had a chance in the ninth against Phillies closer Jeanmar Gomez with outs and a runner on first base, but Harper grounded out to end the game.
Scherzer had command issues throughout the game, as he issued four free passes in six innings. However, he yielded just three runs on seven hits and fanned seven batters. He wasn’t great but pitched well enough to keep his team in the game.
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Next Up: The Nationals (14-5) continue their home series against the Phillies (10-10) on Wednesday. Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 1.42) takes the mound, and he will be opposed by Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 5.21). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and you can watch the game on MASN.