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SF chases Scherzer as Duffy flirts with cycle

SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Duffy ignited the San Francisco offense, finishing a triple shy of the cycle and driving in three runs, as the Giants defeated the Nationals, 8-5, Friday night at AT&T Park.

Duffy cranked a solo homer off Max Scherzer in his first career at-bat against the former Cy Young Award winner and added a double his second time up. The Giants' third baseman and the rest of the Giants tormented the Nationals' ace, who allowed a season-high six earned runs.

"Typically, if you can get a guy to throw pitches over the middle of the plate and take advantage of him, that's when good things happen," Duffy said. "We got a few pitches over the middle and we were able to capitalize."

Matt Cain quieted the Nationals' bats through four innings until Bryce Harper unleashed a towering home run to right-center field to cut the Giants' four-run lead to one.

"He's been really good and then he's had his off innings," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Cain. "He's just off a little bit sometimes with the command and that's what's costing him with the long ball."

Double trouble: The Giants' Brandon Crawford, Justin Maxwell, Gregor Blanco and Duffy hit two-baggers as part of a four-run second inning. The feat matched a Giants' San Francisco-era record for most doubles in an inning, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

"We got a nice cushion there," Bochy said.

Video: [email protected]: Giants club four doubles off Scherzer in 2nd

Harper leads the charge: The Nationals made it a one-run game in the fifth inning by scoring four runs. Harper highlighted the scoring with his three-run homer, putting himself in the record books by becoming the 26th player to hit at least 30 home runs in a season at 22 or younger. The most recent player to reach that plateau was Mike Trout in 2014. Harper also became the first player in the National League to hit 30 home runs this season. Seven American League players have hit at least 30 homers. More >

"I'm playing for 40 [home runs]," Harper said. "If you are not worried about 30, you are not worried about 40. I want to hit 40 or 50. I want to keep going. I want to keep battling. If I'm doing that, hopefully, we are winning ballgames. That's all that matters. Personal stats, of course, are fun. But it's all about winning ballgames and what you can do for your team."

Doing the little things: Blanco doubled to left-center with one out in the sixth inning and stole third before Duffy walked. Brandon Belt then hit a ground ball to Ryan Zimmerman, who stepped on first base and fired home in attempt to get Blanco going home. The San Francisco center fielder dove to the outside of the plate, just getting his hand in before the tag to provide the Giants with some much-needed insurance. More >

Video: [email protected]: Blanco adds two more runs with a double

Scherzer hit hard: Scherzer had his worst outing of the season Friday. He lasted a season-low three innings and allowed six runs to raise his ERA to 2.73. His worst inning was the second, in which he allowed four runs. In his last 15 innings, Scherzer has allowed 13 runs. More >

"I get it. I stunk. There is no getting around that," Scherzer said. "... My arm slot is a little low right now. It causes my fastball to flatten out. When you think about the results tonight, a lot of damage was done against the fastball."

Video: [email protected]: Scherzer strikes out Pence to end the 1st

Harper became the sixth player in Nats history to hit 30 homers in a season. The last player to do it before Harper was Adam LaRoche in 2012. .

Hunter Pence ripped a hard grounder to Nationals' third baseman Yunel Escobar, who made a diving attempt to stop the ball. Escobar jumped to his feet and fired to first to get Pence, who signaled to the umpire he beat the throw. Giants' manager Bruce Bochy elected to review the play and replay officials overturned the call, determining Pence beat the throw.

Video: [email protected]: Giants challenge out call at first in 7th

Nationals: Left-hander Gio Gonzalez will get the start for Washington on Saturday at 10:05 p.m. ET. Gonzalez showed Monday night that he is going to be a factor for the Nationals during the pennant stretch. He held the Dodgers scoreless over a season-high eight innings in an 8-3 Washington victory over Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium..

Giants: San Francisco turns to Jake Peavy as the Giants look to steal the third game of the series. Peavy faced Washington in his first start off the disabled list on July 3, an outing in which he allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings in a 2-1 loss.

Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. Oliver Macklin is an associate reporter for
Read More: Gregor Blanco, Matt Cain, Matt Duffy, Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper