MIAMI -- Max Scherzer was on the brink of joining historical pitching company, but instead, he was victimized by a two-out error that led to an agonizing loss on Wednesday afternoon at Marlins Park.
A.J. Ellis broke up Scherzer's no-hit bid with a one-out infield single in the eighth inning, and the Marlins ended up rallying for a 2-1 win over the Nationals, scoring the go-ahead run on Giancarlo Stanton's two-out RBI single to left.
"A couple sliders got away from me. I wasn't able to execute that pitch there," Scherzer said. "Later in that inning, that's what cost me. That's what lost the game. I'm not able to execute a slider when I needed to either to [Dee] Gordon to hit him or to Stanton to finish him off."
The Marlins went from being dominated by Scherzer, who struck out 11 and had allowed just a first-inning walk to Christian Yelich and a hit by pitch to Derek Dietrich in the second. The 32-year-old, who has two career no-hitters, retired 18 straight before Ellis tapped an infield single that deflected off Scherzer's glove with one out in the eighth. He was five outs from becoming the sixth pitcher in Major League history with at least three no-hitters. Nolan Ryan has seven, followed by Sandy Koufax with four.
"Straight survival/battle mode right there," Ellis said after Miami took two of three in the series. "Max was amazing today. It was electric. Everything looked the same. All of his pitches came out of the same slot. Just trying to square something up. He got two strikes on you, especially his [ability] to strike hitters out, you just try to grind and battle and put something in play."
Scherzer entered the eighth inning at 98 pitches, and Ellis' hit came on his 105th. He finished with 121.
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"I thought I had it," Scherzer said of Ellis' chopper. "Usually the way I finish, I'm never really able to field any comebackers. I think I was able to get out of my finish and get a glove on it, and I thought I had caught it. When I looked at it, it was empty."
The Nationals led, 1-0, on Ryan Raburn's home run off Dan Straily in the fifth.
But Miami scored twice off Scherzer in the eighth. Scherzer should have been out of the inning on J.T. Realmuto's pinch-hit grounder to short, but first baseman Adam Lind couldn't come up with the throw. The error extended the frame.
Miami tied it on a wild pitch, and Stanton's RBI single gave the Marlins their second hit and a one-run lead.
"That was the little crack left in the door for us," Stanton said of Lind's error. "That's all you need sometimes. The best teams capitalize on those little mistakes or opportunities."
Until Stanton's single to left, which had an exit velocity of 108.1 mph, the hardest-hit ball off Scherzer was JT Riddle's routine grounder to end the fifth, at 93.5 mph.
Just making contact off Scherzer was a struggle. The right-hander has now struck out 10 or more in six straight starts, and nine of his 15 this season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Stanton sizzling single: Stanton was badly fooled by Scherzer most of the game, striking out twice before coming to bat in the eighth inning. Stanton blistered a two-out RBI single to left, scoring the go-ahead run. Miami had a chance to add a second run on the hit, but Raburn threw Dee Gordon out at the plate.
"The swings really didn't look good all day long," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Stanton. "I think the wild pitch kind of takes pressure off him at that point. We've got it tied at the point, and Max is at 118, 119, 120 pitches. So his stuff's got to be deteriorating a little bit. So I thought that was huge for us."
The ball dropped in front of Raburn, who started in left with Brian Goodwin filling in for Michael Taylor (late scratch), for the go-ahead single.
"Until the ball tells me I can't, I'm gonna try to catch it," Raburn said. "He hit a ball hard. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get to it." More >
Foregoing pinch-hitter: Nationals manager Dusty Baker opted to leave Lind in rather than bringing in Ryan Zimmerman, who leads all National League first basemen in voting for the All-Star Game, with a off the bench. Lind struck out looking to end the game.
"Lind's been one of our hottest bats, and that bat was coming up again in the ninth," Baker said. "Ordinarily in a game like that, you put your defense in, but when you've got another big bat coming up in the ninth, then you don't want to take that bat out of the lineup."
"The game just had a lot going on. The solo shot [Raburn] hit, it looks like [Scherzer] is going to throw a no-hitter and win, 1-0. Just right there, it just shows you how fast it can turn, really." -- Straily said
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Marlins were no-hit by Jordan Zimmermann of the Nationals on Sept. 28, 2014, on Closing Day at Nationals Park.
Nationals: Washington gets a much-needed off-day Thursday before heading back home for a three-game set with the Reds. Stephen Strasburg (8-2, 3.28 ERA) toes the rubber for his first start against Cincinnati this season at 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday.
Marlins: Miami opens a four-game series with the Cubs at 7:10 p.m. ET on Thursday at Marlins Park. Lefty Jeff Locke (0-2, 4.58 ERA) seeks his first win since signing with the Marlins. Jacob Arrieta (6-5, 4.64 ERA) gets the start for Chicago.
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