Scherzer, Harper carry Nationals past Orioles 2-0 for sweep
Scherzer pitched eight innings of two-hit ball to earn his eighth consecutive victory, and the Washington Nationals beat their neighboring rivals 2-0 Wednesday night to complete a three-game sweep.
Bryce Harper hit his 18th home run for the Nationals, whose 10-game road winning streak is their longest run since the team moved from Montreal in 2005.
Scherzer (9-1) struck out 12, walked one and retired 24 of 27 batters. It was the eighth time this season he reached double figures in strikeouts and the 72nd time in his career.
”He had a really good fastball tonight. I should say a great fastball,” manager Dave Martinez said. ”Man, it was 96, 97 (mph), it was over the plate. And his slider was really, really sharp.”
The only runner to reach against Scherzer in the first six innings was Chris Davis, who singled in the second. After Manny Machado doubled in the seventh and Mark Trumbo drew a walk, Scherzer fired a third strike past Davis to end the threat.
He completed his standout performance with a perfect eighth.
”When I can throw all my pitches for strikes, that’s when I can work ahead in the count,” Scherzer said. ”I had rhythm and the ability to work both sides of the plate.”
He was way too good for a Baltimore team that ranks 13th in the 15-team AL in batting average and runs. This was the 13th time in their past 15 games that the Orioles failed to score more than three runs.
”We’ve just got to figure out a way for our offense to get some type of consistency because it’s been a challenge for us,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Sean Doolittle gave up two singles in the ninth, but notched his 13th save.
With no outs and two on, Craig Gentry inexplicably tried to steal third and was tagged out in a rundown.
”That doesn’t look good because of the results and the chance we had there,” Showalter said. ”But we still had two more outs after that.”
Machado followed with a routine fly ball and the game ended when Jonathan Schoop popped out into a swirling mist.
Harper moved into a tie with Mike Trout for the major league lead in homers when he connected on a 3-2 pitch from rookie David Hess in the third inning for a 1-0 lead.
Making his fourth major league start, Hess (2-2) proved to be a worthy opponent to the 33-year-old Scherzer. The young right-hander gave up one run and four hits over six innings.
Baltimore has lost five straight.
Nationals: OF Adam Eaton (ankle) ran Wednesday and should be ready for a rehab assignment this weekend, Martinez said. … OF Brian Goodwin (wrist) will play another rehab game or two at Double-A Harrisburg, Martinez said. … Ryan Zimmerman (oblique) will run the bases over the next few days before the Nationals determine if he’s ready to go on a rehab assignment.
Orioles: Closer Zach Britton (Achilles tendon) launched his rehabilitation assignment by pitching the fifth inning for Class A Frederick against Wilmington, his first game action since Sept. 18. The lefty allowed an infield single and struck out the side.
Harper has spent his entire big-league career with Washington, but the Las Vegas native makes no apologies for rooting for the Golden Knights against the Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final. While Martinez conducted his pre-game news conference in a Capitals hat and jersey, Harper’s Golden Knights hat and jersey were in plain sight at his locker. ”Hopefully, I’ll get to go Game 4 in D.C.,” Harper said.
Nationals: In a duel in Atlanta for first place in the NL East, Tanner Roark (2-4, 3.17 ERA) seeks his eighth career win against the Braves’ Sean Newcomb (5-1, 2.75 ERA) on Thursday night.
Orioles: Andrew Cashner (2-6, 5.07) faces the Yankees’ Sonny Gray (3-4, 5.98) on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series between AL East foes.
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