WASHINGTON — Knowing that Washington star Max Scherzer can sometimes be stubborn when it comes to being taken out of games, Nationals acting manager Chris Speier said before Friday night’s contest he hoped Scherzer would go nine.
Scherzer allowed three hits over 8 2/3 innings, Bryce Harper and Michael A. Taylor hit two-run homers and the Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 5-1 on Friday night.
Scherzer (5-3) struck out a season-high 13, throwing 108 pitches, 81 for strikes.
“His slider and his changeup were devastating to the right-handed hitters, really to everybody,” said Speier, who is filling in this weekend while Dusty Baker attends his son Darren’s high school graduation in California.
Scherzer, who tossed a season-low five innings in a loss to Atlanta last time out, retired 14 straight before Allen Cordoba’s one-out single in the ninth. After a walk to Yangervis Solarte, Speier visited the mound, but he momentarily left Scherzer in.
“The first time was, you know he wanted it. I would have been booed like crazy had I taken him out,” Speier said. “And the thought about complete game entered my mind. So, we gave him an opportunity to try.”
However, after a strikeout and a hit batter, Speier called on Koda Glover who struck out pinch-hitter Hunter Renfroe with the bases loaded to pick up his fourth save.
“I always say I’m built for 110 (pitches), but how many times in May do you really want to extend me past 110 pitches?” Scherzer said. “That’s where (pitching coach Mike) Maddux and Speier, they both knew what’s going on. They made the right decision.”
Scherzer, who struck out the side on 11 pitches in the third, walked two.
“That’s not like a young lineup facing an ace even though that’s what it is,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “That’s an ace that carves through any lineup when he’s throwing like that.”
Trea Turner added a solo homer and a double for Washington
With Washington leading 3-1 in the seventh, Harper hit a towering shot into the third deck off reliever Kirby Yates, his 15th of the season.
After Ryan Schimpf’s homer had tied it 1-1 in the fourth, Taylor quickly regained the lead for Washington when he homered with Matt Wieters aboard in the bottom of the inning.
Since taking over for injured center fielder Adam Eaton on April 29, Taylor is hitting .307 (27 for 88) with five doubles, three triples, three homers and 10 RBIs.
San Diego starter Luis Perdomo (0-2) allowed three runs and six hits over six innings. He struck out six and walked two.
In the bottom of the first, Turner connected for the Nationals’ first leadoff homer of the season. It was the third of Turner’s career.
Padres: OF Manuel Margot, who left Wednesday’s game with right calf soreness, was in a walking boot. Green said the boot is a precaution for now. “Becoming increasingly likely that it’s a DL stint, but he’s active tonight,” Green said. … RHP Carter Capps (Tommy John surgery) threw on the side Friday. “There’s talk of facing hitters again on Monday or Tuesday,” Green said.
Nationals: An MRI on OF Chris Heisey confirmed he has a ruptured right biceps tendon. However, he will attempt to rehab the injury without surgery and could return in a relatively short time. Heisey was on the field during batting practice, shagging fly balls in the outfield.
Asked before the game about Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy being out the lineup, Speier deadpanned: “Actually, Zimmerman had a whiffle ball accident with his daughter, sprained his right wrist and Murph’s back is blown out.” He quickly added: “Just a day off.”
ALL OR NOTHING
Schimpf has 23 hits on the season, 12 are homers.
Padres: LHP Clayton Richards (3-5, 4.31) is 1-3 in 10 career appearances, six starts, against the Nationals with a 3.56 ERA
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (5-1, 3.28) faces his hometown team for the seventh time in his career. He’s 5-1 with a 3.50 ERA against San Diego.
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