Imperfect Scherzer still dominant over Phillies
PHILADELPHIA -- For the third consecutive start, Max Scherzer flirted with a no-hitter, but after 16 straight full hitless innings, Scherzer proved to be human on Friday as the Nationals defeated the Phillies, 5-2, at Citizens Bank Park.
Six days after pitching a no-hitter against the Pirates, Scherzer retired the first 16 Phillies he faced. Once he was able get through the order the first time, Scherzer was thinking something special was happening. He had a chance to join Johnny Vander Meer as the only pitchers to throw consecutive no-hitters. More >
"It's so hard. It takes luck. You have to be on point. You make mistakes, they have to mishit it," Scherzer said. "I made a few mistakes early. They hit some balls hard. Fortunately, they were right at people."
Freddy Galvis then broke up the no-hit bid with a double down the right-field line. Scherzer allowed five hits in the game, including an RBI double to Domonic Brown and a solo homer to Ben Revere. The first run ended the scoreless streak by Nationals starters at 47 1/3 innings.
"It's awesome. Any time the starters are going out there and doing their job, it does so much for the ballclub, does so much for the pen," Scherzer said about the scoreless streak. "It allows the offense to relax and continue to score runs. It keeps the pressure on their guys and the back end of their bullpen." More >
The Phillies played their first game under interim manager Pete Mackanin, who replaced Ryan Sandberg after the latter resigned Friday. Phillies right-hander Aaron Harang went to the mound, lasting six innings and allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits.
"It was pretty uneventful, strategically," Mackanin said of his Phillies managerial debut. "I didn't have to make any huge moves or anything like that. There was just not a whole lot going on for most of the game." More >
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Scherzer dominates again: Scherzer didn't get a complete game this time, but he pitched eight solid innings, struck out seven batters and walked none. Scherzer also showed that he could help himself with the bat. He had a single in the fifth inning to extend his hitting streak to six games, and he later scored on a sacrifice fly by Danny Espinosa.
"I was pounding the zone. Again, another outing with no walks. That's what you pride yourself on -- just attacking the zone," Scherzer said. "The defense made some good plays. I was [on the same page with] Willie [Ramos]." More >
Steady Freddy: Galvis might have been the least likely candidate to break up Scherzer's perfect game bid. The shortstop entered the game 13-for-72 in June, a batting average of .181, and he had only recorded eight extra-base hits all season. Magnifying things, Galvis was just 1-for-11 lifetime vs. Scherzer. But in the sixth inning, Galvis beat the averages and ripped a double into right to give the Phillies their first baserunner and break up Scherzer's chance at a second consecutive no-hitter. More >
Nats get timely hitting: Scherzer was given a lead before he threw his first pitch, as Washington scored its first run on an RBI infield single by Wilson Ramos. By the sixth inning, the Nationals had a 5-0 lead, thanks in part to Matt den Dekker's two-run homer in the the sixth.
"That felt great," den Dekker said. "I'm glad I could get into the game, help the team out and be part of a win. It's been special watching those starting pitchers go out there and give us the starts they have been giving us. It's carried over into the offense. It gives us a lot of confidence to go out there and play the game."
Back-and-forth Brown: In the top of the fifth inning, Domonic Brown made a costly error on a two-out line drive off Ramos' bat. The ball popped out of Brown's glove, giving the Nationals their third run of the game. Two innings later, Brown connected on a 95-mph Scherzer pitch, the eighth of the at-bat, over Michael Taylor's head off the wall for an RBI double, giving the Phillies their first run of the game. However, Brown's carousel of a day ended on another negative note, as a baserunning blunder he made rounding third in the ninth inning ended the game and the Phillies' chances for a comeback.
"I guess I've got to pick it up faster," Brown said of missing the signal to stop at third in the ninth inning. "I was running hard. I know the tying run was coming up and like I said, I was running hard from second."
"I thought it was a pop fly at first, so I'm just going to run the ball out. Then I heard the crowd start cheering. I thought it was off the fence and I was like, 'I don't see it.' Then I saw the umpire waving his hand around." -- Ben Revere, on what was going through his mind as he rounded the bases during his eighth-inning home run, just the third of his career
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
During their seven-game winning streak, the Nationals have outscored their opponents, 36-7, thanks to an offense that has produced a .307 batting average and a pitching staff that has posted a 0.97 ERA.
Mackanin seized his first opportunity to use a managerial challenge early in Friday's contest. In the top of the third inning with one out, Nationals left fielder Clint Robinson bounced a grounder to Cesar Hernandez, who went to tag Dan Uggla running from first to second before throwing to first. On the field, second-base umpire Jerry Meals ruled that Hernandez's glove did not make contact with Uggla, but the replay proved otherwise, giving the Phillies an inning-ending double play. The review lasted one minute and eight seconds.
Nationals: Left-hander Gio Gonzalez takes the mound and hopes to win his second consecutive game. In his last start, Gonzalez pitched seven scoreless innings in a 9-0 victory over the Pirates. Gonzalez will face the the Phillies for the 15th time in his career. He is 7-5 with a 3.02 ERA against them.
Phillies: Adam Morgan will make his second career Major League start Saturday. His first start fared better than anyone predicted, as he allowed just one run in 5 2/3 innings against the Cardinals, recording not just his first MLB win, but his first win of 2015 at any level. Morgan had allowed 15 runs in his previous 25 1/3 innings in Triple-A.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.