Nats beat Cardinals in 10 innings 4-3
Max Scherzer wasn’t at his best Monday afternoon, but he was still pretty good.
Pitching against his hometown Cardinals, the Washington ace gave up three runs in seven innings and appeared headed for a loss before the Nationals tied the game in the last of the ninth on a two-run homer by Bryce Harper.
The Nationals left the bases loaded for the third time, in the ninth, but pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds led off the last of the 10th with a double that was nearly caught. Michael A. Taylor pinch-ran and went to third on a bunt single by Adam Eaton. Taylor then scored the game-winner on a sac fly by Harper for the 4-3 win.
While the Nationals playoff hopes are dim, several players are taking aim at personal awards. Teen outfielder Juan Soto (0-for-2, three walks) is aiming for Rookie of the Year while Scherzer is gunning for his third straight Cy Young Award.
Scherzer did get his 250th strikeout of the year when he retired the first batter of the game, Matt Carpenter, who has 35 homers. That gave him 250 strikeouts for the fifth year in a row, and he finished the day with 11 strikeouts and now has 260 in 2018.
The record holder is Randy Johnson, who fanned at least 250 batters six years in a row from 1997 to 2002.
If Scherzer continues to pitch every fifth day he should be able to make five more starts this year, with the next coming at home Saturday against the Cubs. The Nationals veteran is looking to win 20 games in a season for the third time in his career.
The native of suburban St. Louis got an extra day of rest after pitching Tuesday in Philadelphia. “It’s huge. That extra day is good for him,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said before the game.
But Yairo Munoz of the Cardinals hit a solo homer off Scherzer in the top of the sixth for a 3-1 lead. That came after Scherzer had retired 12 batters in a row. He has allowed homers in his last three starts, and four overall in those outings.
St. Louis had taken a 2-0 lead in the first.
Scherzer balked with two runners on base as he stumbled on the rubber, then gave up a two-run single later in the frame to Paul DeJong as the Cardinals grabbed a 2-0 advantage.
Trea Turner, the Washington shortstop, lined a solo homer in the first to trim the margin to 2-1. That was the 17th homer of the year for Turner.
The Nationals left the bases loaded in the fifth as Ryan Zimmerman flew out to deep left to end the threat off Flaherty. Washington also left the bases full in the first.
The Nationals entered the game 8 games back of first-place Atlanta and 4 games behind second-place Philadelphia in the National League East. Washington has won the previous two division titles and was a favorite this year.
The wild card picture is also not good for the Nationals, who trailed four teams for the second spot through Sunday: the Cardinals, Colorado, Arizona and the Phillies.
With expanded rosters this month Pedro Severino, called up from Triple-A Saturday, made the start at catcher for the Nationals in place of injured Matt Wieters. “It’s his groin. We just have to be careful,” Martinez said of Wieters.
Severino was hitless in three at-bats and is batting .168 before Wieters pinch-hit for him in the eighth and fanned. Wieters also struck out to end the ninth with the winning run on third.
“He can be a really good catch and throw guy,” Martinez said of Severino. “He’s young. He was playing really good at Triple-A.”
More help is coming for the Nationals.
Martinez said outfielder Victor Robles could be called up from Triple-A Syracuse in time for Tuesday’s game. Syracuse ended its season at home Monday in the last game of a 10-year run as the top minor league affiliate of the Nationals. “I want to see him play,” Martinez said of Robles.
NOTES: The game-time temperature was 90 degrees ... The series continues on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. as Erick Fedde (1-3, 5.79) pitches for Washington against Mike Mikolas (13-4, 2.96) ... Kyle McGowin was the starting pitcher Monday for Syracuse. McGowin has had a stellar year and was 2-2 with an ERA of 1.32 in his first seven starts for the Chiefs. A possible location for Triple-A next year for Washington is Las Vegas or Nashville, according to Baseball America.