WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Nationals gave Max Scherzer early run support, and that made his job a lot easier Friday night.
Scherzer struck out 10 in seven innings, Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick homered and the Nationals defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-3.
Scherzer (5-5) leads the National League with 136 strikeouts. He gave up two runs and three hits, including home runs by Carson Kelly and Nick Ahmed.
“Every five days, you know what you’re going to get from Max,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “He’s really good. That’s why he’s an ace.”
The 10 strikeouts in this game gave him 2,585 for his career and moved Scherzer past Hall of Famers Bob Feller and Warren Spahn into 27th place on the all-time list.
This was Scherzer’s third straight win overall and he improved to 7-0 in nine starts against Arizona — he started his big league career with the Diamondbacks in 2008.
The Nationals have scored three runs or less in 10 of the 15 games Scherzer has started. Scherzer was delighted to get the offensive help.
“We got some big home runs. When our offense can go like this, it just makes it easier to pitch,” Scherzer said. “You can go out there, be aggressive towards their guys and try to throw up strikes and just try to throw up goose eggs.”
The Nationals scored three times in the third off Robbie Ray (5-4) on an RBI double by Trea Turner, a sacrifice fly from Victor Robles and a run-scoring single by Juan Soto.
Ahmed homered in the fifth to pull Arizona within 3-2 but that was all they could do against Scherzer.
“He throws a lot of strikes and attacks,” Ahmed said. “You can’t go up there and try to take and work the count. He’s one of the best.”
Rendon and Kendrick hit solo home runs in the sixth, and Washington added two more in the seventh on Robles’ RBI single and Rendon’s sacrifice fly.
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Washington OF Michael A. Taylor had stolen just two bases this season coming into the game, but swiped two in the seventh and later scored an insurance run.
Ray made a throwing error on Scherzer’s sacrifice bunt trying for a force at second base that helped the Nationals in their three-run third. Three of the next four Washington hitters drove in runs for a 3-1 lead.
“I just made a bad throw,” Ray said.
Diamondbacks: C Alex Avila (strained left calf) was put on the injured list after being hurt in Thursday’s win. Manager Torey Lovullo said Avila will have an MRI and said the catcher is optimistic he will not be out for long. C Caleb Joseph was recalled from Triple-A Reno to take Avila’s spot. … Lovullo said RHP Jon Duplantier (right shoulder inflammation) had an MRI that was “very positive” and will go on anti-inflammatories and is not going to throw for six or seven days. He will be examined after that.
Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman (plantar fasciitis right foot) ran on the treadmill Thursday and continued with baseball activities Friday. Zimmerman was placed on the 10-day injured list April 28. . RHP Justin Miller (right shoulder inflammation) received an unspecified injection Friday, according to Martinez. Miller was “shut down” this week after throwing. He has been on the 10-day injured list since May 18.
Diamondbacks: Taylor Clarke (1-2, 5.26) will make his sixth major league start in Saturday’s game. It will be the first time he has pitched against Washington.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (7-3, 3.36) now has won four in a row. His last loss came on May 12, and the right-hander has given up only two homers in his last eight starts.
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