WASHINGTON -- Elvis Andrus' two-run triple highlighted a four-run eighth inning, which catapulted the Rangers to a 5-1 victory over the Nationals on Sunday afternoon and a three-game sweep at Nationals Park.The win capped off a strong start to a six-game road trip for the Rangers as they head to
WASHINGTON -- Elvis Andrus' two-run triple highlighted a four-run eighth inning, which catapulted the Rangers to a 5-1 victory over the Nationals on Sunday afternoon and a three-game sweep at Nationals Park.
The win capped off a strong start to a six-game road trip for the Rangers as they head to Houston to face the Astros, owners of the best record in the Majors.
The game had been locked in a pitchers' duel between right-handers Max Scherzer of Washington and Austin Bibens-Dirkx of Texas.
"Really a gutsy performance by our team," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "When we talk about confidence and belief, they never waver, but what this does is fill up that pitcher of confidence and resiliency, and these guys play off that."
Bibens-Dirkx, who spent time in the Nationals' organization in 2012 and was making his second career start, matched the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner. He gave up consecutive hits in the first, including a leadoff homer to Brian Goodwin, but then settled in to throw seven innings of one-run ball and pick up his second career win.
Scherzer notched his 2,000th career strikeout in the fourth against Nomar Mazara on his way to another stellar outing during his recent hot streak. He struck out 10, his fourth consecutive double-digit strikeout game and seventh this season, on his way to 7 1/3 innings before he was removed after putting two men on base in the eighth.
• Max makes history as 3rd-fastest to 2,000 K's
"Everybody's frustrated," Scherzer said. "It was a tight ballgame all the way through. I was getting matched pitch for pitch."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Choo owns Scherzer:Shin-Soo Choo has had tremendous success against Scherzer and that continued Sunday. Choo had a first-inning single and a third-inning solo home run off Scherzer and is 14-for-24 with three home runs off Scherzer in his career. The Rangers had two on with one out in the eighth when Choo came up again, which why Nationals manager Dusty Baker brought in left-hander Oliver Perez for Scherzer. But Delino DeShields and Jurickson Profar worked a double steal and Choo walked on four pitches to set up the big inning.
• Choo healthy, playing outfield and hitting HRs
"Sometimes you've just got to tip your cap," Scherzer said. "This guy's had success against me over my career, but at the same time, I'm not afraid to face him. At the same time, he's got my number right now. Sometimes that happens."
With the bases loaded and Blake Treinen on the mound, a passed ball got past catcher Matt Wieters to allow DeShields to score the go-ahead run. Andrus then tripled to extend his hitting streak to 15 games and promptly scored on a sacrifice fly by Nomar Mazara.
Bibens-Dirkx good to end: Bibens-Dirkx gave up a leadoff home run to Goodwin and a single to Bryce Harper in his first three pitches of the game. He then got Daniel Murphy to ground into a double play. That was the first of 19 straight hitters retired. The streak ended with a two-out single by Anthony Rendon and a walk to Adam Lind in the seventh. But Bibens-Dirkx retired Wieters on a grounder to first to end the inning.
"I wasn't thinking about the streak, it was one out at a time," Bibens-Dirkx said. "It was another spot start for me; I wanted to get as many outs as I could before they took the ball from me." More >
SCHERZER REACHES 2,000 STRIKEOUTS
Scherzer became the third-fastest pitcher, by innings, to notch 2,000 career strikeouts, behind only Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson.
"It's crazy to hear me mentioned even among those guys," Scherzer said. "Those are my pitching idols. I'm growing up watching those guys. So any type of mention of anything among those guys -- I don't know, it doesn't even seem real."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The 19 straight retired by Bibens-Dirkx is the longest such streak by a Rangers rookie pitcher in club history.
This is the first time the Nationals have been swept at home since April 26-28, 2016.
"Tough loss, tough series, but we've got to move past this and be ready to go tomorrow," Wieters said.
Rangers: Right-hander Yu Darvish pitches against the Astros in the first of a three-game series at 7:10 p.m. CT on Monday at Minute Maid Park. Darvish is 0-2 with a 4.42 ERA in his past three starts. He has allowed nine runs, all scoring off of four home runs.
Nationals: The Nationals welcome the Braves to Nationals Park for the start of a three-game series Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Stephen Strasburg, who will make his third start against the Nats' NL East rivals this year, is 2-0 with 21 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings vs. the Braves.
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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.