WASHINGTON (AP) Max Scherzer kept the Phillies’ lineup guessing even though he faced them earlier in the week. Against a struggling lineup, it wasn’t too hard.
Scherzer pitched eight strong innings to get his first win with the Nationals and Bryce Harper hit a three-run homer as Washington beat the reeling Philadelphia Phillies 7-2 on Friday night.
Danny Espinosa also homered and Ryan Zimmerman added a two-run double to help the Nationals get their third straight win.
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Scherzer (1-1) scattered four hits and one run and struck out nine in his third start since signing a seven-year, $210 million contract in January. The right-hander has allowed two earned runs and struck out 25 in 21 2-3 innings.
”I’m just glad he’s on my team,” Harper said of Scherzer. ”He’s a bulldog out there.”
The Phillies have lost six in a row including the first two of the four-game series after opening the season 3-1. Odubel Herrera had two hits including a triple and scored Philadelphia’s first run.
Scherzer and Sean O’Sullivan (0-1) met Sunday in Philadelphia, though neither figured into the decision as the Nationals won 4-3 in 10 innings.
In the rematch, Scherzer allowed two first-inning singles, but got Cody Asche to hit into an inning-ending groundout. He took control from there, striking out at least one batter in each of the next six innings.
”Remember, this is the ultimate game of paper, scissors, rock,” Scherzer said after throwing 100 pitches and not issuing a walk. ”You got to know when to stick with your strengths and when to try to go after weaknesses.”
Philadelphia began the day having scored the second-fewest runs in the majors – and have now totaled 26 in 11 games.
”I was hoping it would work to our advantage and have our hitters benefit from seeing him a week ago,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. ”That’s what I was hoping for.”
Herrera tripled off the right field wall in the third and made it 3-1 on Freddy Galvis’s RBI groundout.
Espinosa’s solo shot to center put the Nationals up 4-1 in the fourth, and Zimmerman’s double highlighted a three-run seventh inning.
Nationals reliever Felipe Rivero allowed one run and three hits in the ninth inning in his major league debut.
Phillies: OF Domonic Brown (left achilles tendinitis) is expected to continue his rehab with Triple-A Lehigh Valley in its weekend series in Buffalo after going 5 for 17 in six games with Class A Clearwater. Brown was not in Friday’s starting lineup for Lehigh Valley after playing in Clearwater on Thursday.
Nationals: Reliever Craig Stammen confirmed he will have surgery Sunday for a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm and could miss the rest of the season. … Shortstop Yunel Escobar was removed before the top of the fifth inning after straining his groin running out a grounder that ended the fourth. … Outfielder Denard Span (core muscle surgery) played nine innings for Class A Hagerstown Friday night. He will work out with the Nationals Saturday and could be activated Sunday.
GOLD GLOVE AND BUTCHER HANDS.
Ryan Zimmerman continues looking quite comfortable at first base. Running in foul territory toward home plate, he made a full-stretch, diving catch on O’Sullivan’s sacrifice bunt attempt in the fifth inning. Meanwhile, Ian Desmond continues laboring at his natural position. The shortstop could not get the ball out of his glove after fielding a grounder for his seventh error in 11 games. Desmond had three singles and scored twice.
NO TAKE BACKS
O’Sullivan allowed two runs in Sunday’s appearance. He gave up three to the first four batters in the rematch. After a single, a hit batter and one fly ball out, the righty hung a 1-2 curveball to Harper, who mashed the pitch over the center-field wall for his third home run of the season.
”I’d definitely like to take that one back,” O’Sullivan said of the home run pitch.
Phillies: Aaron Harang (1-1, 0.73) had a 1.33 ERA in four starts last season against Washington.
Nationals: Jordan Zimmermann (1-1, 8.64) makes his first for since allowing eight runs – seven earned – in 2 1-3 innings Monday at Boston.