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Vintage Scherzer displays grit in win

MLB.com @JamalCollier

ATLANTA -- Max Scherzer is fond of saying, "the last 15 pitches of an outing usually dictate how the outing goes."

Scherzer's final 15 pitches in Tuesday's 3-1 victory over the Braves at SunTrust Park were especially gutsy. Scherzer convinced manager Dusty Baker to let him pitch the seventh, even though he had already thrown 101 pitches, then went out and completed a perfect inning on 15 pitches.

Full Game Coverage

ATLANTA -- Max Scherzer is fond of saying, "the last 15 pitches of an outing usually dictate how the outing goes."

Scherzer's final 15 pitches in Tuesday's 3-1 victory over the Braves at SunTrust Park were especially gutsy. Scherzer convinced manager Dusty Baker to let him pitch the seventh, even though he had already thrown 101 pitches, then went out and completed a perfect inning on 15 pitches.

Full Game Coverage

"He knows we've been struggling some in the bullpen and he said, 'I got 110 pitches or more in me,'" Baker recalled after the game. "And I said, 'Well, you're at 103 right now.' He said, 'I promise you that I got some more.' And you see a guy like Max giving all he has. ... So he went out and showed them how to shut down after you get a couple runs. What I like most about him is just his sheer drive and determination to compete and to win."

Scherzer allowed just two hits in seven shutout innings with seven strikeouts on a season-high 116 pitches. After the game, he bemoaned the three walks he issued, but it was vintage Scherzer, the dominant ace helping carry the team to victory.

Tuesday's game came on April 18, and there is a long ways to go. How does Scherzer balance being able to extend himself without overdoing it so early in the season?

"You just listen to your arm," Scherzer said. "That's where I knew I was strong. I'm glad I got even to [116]. Two things here: One, the last 15 pitches of every outing usually dictates how the outing goes. And tonight, to be able to have a clean seventh when we needed it, that was a good thing.

"And the other thing is you learn more about yourself on the pitches after 100 than you do on the first 100. And so for me to get up to 116 tonight, I got to learn something about myself. I think I can take that -- that's a good thing moving forward because I was still sharp in the seventh. Hopefully, I can take that momentum -- and with fastball-slider command -- and take that moving forward."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Washington Nationals, Max Scherzer