Scherzer steals, throws 5th shutout, Nats top Braves 2-0

WASHINGTON (AP) Max Scherzer stole the first base of his professional career and allowed only two singles in his fifth big league shutout, and the Nationals ended a five-game losing skid while getting back to .500 with a 2-0 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.

Scherzer (2-1), the winner of the past two NL Cy Young Awards, did not let the Braves push a runner beyond first base. Kurt Suzuki got a hit in the second, and Nick Markakis did in the fifth, but neither advanced.

Scherzer managed to get farther than that: He swiped second after singling off reliever Peter Moylan in the seventh.

Howie Kendrick delivered all the offense Washington needed with a two-run double.

Scherzer struck out 10 and walked none in his ninth complete game in 299 major league starts. And he needed only 102 pitches, a far more efficient outing than his previous time on the mound: He threw 110 over five innings in a 7-1 loss at Atlanta on April 4.

Julio Teheran (0-1) went six innings for the Braves, and the only damage came on Kendrick’s shot that hugged the left-field line with two outs in the first inning. That brought home Anthony Rendon, who also had doubled, and Bryce Harper, who walked.

This was the first time the Nationals had entered a game with a losing record since August 2015. That’s because after starting this season 4-0, they had dropped five in a row, two to the Braves, then three in a sweep against the New York Mets.

Washington hadn’t lost that many consecutive games since a seven-game rut in June 2016.

ZIM HITTING ZIP

Nationals 1B Ryan Zimmerman went 0 for 4, dropping his season batting average to .097. His early production is getting a lot of scrutiny because he took only two Grapefruit League at-bats, instead opting to prepare in spring training on back fields and against minor league pitchers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: INF Johan Camargo, on the 10-day DL with a strained right oblique muscle, was slated to play at Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday. ”It’s just a matter of getting him at-bats. He’s rusty,” manager Brian Snitker said. … LHP Luiz Gohara, out with an injured left ankle, will throw a side session Tuesday. ”He’s going through spring training now,” Snitker said. … C Tyler Flowers (strained left oblique) has not participated in baseball activities yet.

Nationals: C Matt Wieters is gearing up to return to the team from the 10-day DL, where he’s been since last weekend because of a strained oblique muscle. Manager Dave Martinez said Wieters will go to Class A Potomac on a rehab assignment Tuesday. ”We want him to go get some at-bats. And he’s good with it,” Martinez said. … LF Adam Eaton was back out of the lineup Monday, which Martinez called a ”planned” day off. Eaton missed one start after tweaking his left ankle but was in the lineup Sunday, and Martinez said his leadoff man will return to action Tuesday.

UP NEXT

The Nationals send RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-0, 3.65 ERA) to the mound against Braces RHP Mike Foltynewicz (1-0, 2.61).

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