Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
PHOENIX -- Right-hander Max Scherzer efficiently worked both sides of the ball when Washington completed a lopsided sweep of Arizona on Wednesday afternoon.
Scherzer pitched eight innings for his 12th victory and contributed a two-run single in a tie-breaking sixth inning rally in the Nationals' 8-3 victory over the Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
"I really take pride in being able to move runners and help the team," Scherzer said.
"I found a way to grind out an 0-2 at-bat to get the ball up the middle and open the game up. Any time you can do something at the plate to help your team, it really puts a smile on everybody's face."
Daniel Murphy and Trea Turner homered as the Nationals (64-44) outscored the D-backs 32-8 and had 48 hits in their first three-game sweep since beat the Mets the last week of June.
Murphy's homer with one out in the sixth inning broke a tie at 1 off right-hander Zack Godley (3-2), and Scherzer's two-run single capped the inning after singles by Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa and a hit batsman loaded the bases with two outs.
The Nationals, who have won six of nine, put the game away with four two-out runs in the ninth inning.
Scherzer (12-6) did not allow a hit until David Peralta's double in the fifth inning and pitched through bases-empty homers by Jake Lamb in the sixth inning and Yasmany Tomas in the seventh for his seventh consecutive quality start.
Scherzer gave up four hits, struck out 11 and walked one. He is 4-1 with a 1.46 ERA in seven starts since June 29.
"Max helped himself out big time," Baker said, speaking of Scherzer's bat. "That is something that is important in our league."
Scherzer had 15 hits last season in his return to the NL after five seasons with Detroit, and he has six hits and five RBIs this year.
"I'm never going to hit a home run. I get it," Scherzer said.
"For me, it is just about getting base hits the other way, up the middle. You are just trying to do anything to roll the lineup over. When you get to the top of the lineup, that's when good things happen."
Murphy and Ben Revere had two hits for the Nationals, who went 6-3 on the road trip to get back to 20 games over .500 for the second time this season. The Nationals are 33-24 on the road and lead the majors in road victories.
"We know this team is a little down," Baker said of Arizona. "It happens to all of us sometimes. So you have to finish them when they are down.
"Hopefully we can continue to pad our lead over .500 and over Miami and the Mets."
Lamb and Tomas homered in consecutive games for Arizona (43-55), which has lost four in a row and 17 of 22. They are 17-38 at home.
"I was happy with our offensive performance against (Scherzer)," Arizona manager Chip Hale said.
"He's one of the better guys in the league and one of the best competitors. The game was very well played for the eight innings, and then we just couldn't hold them in the top of the ninth."
Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth inning in his second appearance for the Nationals since being acquired from Pittsburgh just before the trade deadline. It was a save situation when he began warming in the bullpen but not by the time he entered the game.
Turner's homer to lead off the third inning broke a scoreless tie. Turner was 13-for-38 with eight RBIs and four stolen bases on the road trip.
Arizona tied it at 1 in the fifth after Peralta opened the inning with an opposite-field double into the left-field corner. Peralta had two doubles.
Peralta took third on a wild pitch and scored when right fielder Bryce Harper could not hold Brandon Drury's high popup to short right after a long run. The ball hit Harper's glove as he slid in attempt to make the catch.
NOTES: Washington 1B Ryan Zimmerman (wrist) was held out of the third straight game after being hit by a pitch in the ninth inning of Sunday's game. ... Nationals RF Bryce Harper returned to the lineup after being a late scratch Tuesday because of illness. He doubled in his first plate appearance. ... Arizona RHP Zack Greinke (oblique) was scheduled to throw about 80 pitches for Triple-A Reno on Wednesday in what the teams hoped would be his final rehab start before returning to the rotation next week against the New York Mets on Tuesday or Wednesday. ... The Nationals have not named a starter for Friday's game against San Francisco, and manager Dusty Baker said RHP Joe Ross is not a candidate. Ross (shoulder) threw 67 pitches in a rehab start for Triple-Syracuse on Saturday. "We need to get him more length," Baker said. Ross, on the disabled list since July 3, is 7-4 with a 3.49 ERA in 16 starts this season.