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Scherzer K's 9, but Nats' bats go silent in loss

MLB.com @JamalCollier

WASHINGTON -- While Max Scherzer has been one of the hottest pitchers in the National League, Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford has also been one of the league's hottest hitters. On Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park, Crawford got the better of Scherzer and Washington when he went 4-for-4, including the decisive two-run home run off the Nats' ace to lead San Francisco to a 2-0 victory.

Crawford was the lone blemish in an otherwise dominant outing from Scherzer. He struck out nine in seven innings and gave up four hits, three of which were to Crawford. The loss snaps a nine-game winning streak for Scherzer.

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WASHINGTON -- While Max Scherzer has been one of the hottest pitchers in the National League, Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford has also been one of the league's hottest hitters. On Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park, Crawford got the better of Scherzer and Washington when he went 4-for-4, including the decisive two-run home run off the Nats' ace to lead San Francisco to a 2-0 victory.

Crawford was the lone blemish in an otherwise dominant outing from Scherzer. He struck out nine in seven innings and gave up four hits, three of which were to Crawford. The loss snaps a nine-game winning streak for Scherzer.

View Full Game Coverage

"I threw good pitches to him. He put great swings on them," Scherzer said. "He wins. I lose. It's as simple as that. He's hot. I have to be better than him. Today, he was great. And tip your hat and move on."

Video: SF@WSH: Crawford launches a 2-run homer to right

This was Scherzer's 13th start this season where he allowed two earned runs or fewer, the most in the National League. But he received no support from the Nationals at the plate. There have been moments this season where the Nats looked like an offensive juggernaut, despite the fact that they have been playing without many of their starters. And then there are days like Sunday, when left-hander Derek Holland -- who entered the game with a 4.91 ERA -- held them scoreless through five innings.

San Francisco's bullpen closed out the game with four hitless innings, which included a save from closer Hunter Strickland -- in which he retired his nemesis, Bryce Harper, with a groundout to short.

"Sometimes you got to tip your hat to the other guy, too," manager Dave Martinez said. "Holland kept us off-balance. His changeup was good. Mixed his pitches up really well, so it was one of those days."

Video: SF@WSH: Martinez talks Scherzer's outing, 2-0 loss

Improving the consistency of their offense is perhaps one of the Nationals' biggest hurdles going forward -- one that should only improve as they get healthier. Adam Eaton, who was given a day off on Sunday, returned from the disabled list the previous day. Daniel Murphy will almost certainly join him back in the lineup this week in New York.

But on Sunday, the Nationals' lack of offense spoiled a great outing from Scherzer. Washington's starting pitching has carried the team with its consistency through the season's first two months, but the Nats lost a pair of starters -- Stephen Strasburg and Jeremy Hellickson -- to the DL this week. Without them, the Nats will be counting on a greater contribution, or at least more consistency, from their lineup going forward.

"When everyone's hot or cold at the same time, I think it's a little bit of a coincidence," shortstop Trea Turner said. "When there's runners on base, sometimes you get better pitches to hit. I get that. But there's plenty of times when somebody's hot and other people are cold. It's a matter of stringing hits today, and innings. I feel like we've hit the ball well, but we haven't been able to get traffic out there and continue to put runs on the board."

SOUND SMART
Michael A. Taylor swiped his 17th base of the season in the fifth inning, matching his career high, which was set last season. Only Dee Gordon (19), Trea Turner (18) and Ender Inciarte (18) have more stolen bases than Taylor this season.

Video: SF@WSH: Taylor swipes second for his 17th steal

Taylor is also starting to heat up for the Nats, with a hit in 14 of his past 17 games, and he is batting .310 in that span.

HE SAID IT
"The past is the past. I think everybody's moved on from that. That's part of our job, to get whoever it is out. No matter if it's him or [Matt] Adams, they're all good hitters." -- Strickland, on facing Harper for the first time since their at-bat incited a benches-clearing altercation last season

Video: SF@WSH: Strickland retires Harper in the 9th inning

UP NEXT
After an off-day Monday, the Nationals travel to New York for the start of a two-game Interleague series against the Yankees. Daniel Murphy will make the trip with the Nats, and he will almost certainly be activated from the disabled list to serve as the team's designated hitter during this week of games against the American League. Tanner Roark will match up against CC Sabathia on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals, Max Scherzer