Washington Nationals starter Max Scherzer is concerned in the dugout after giving up five runs in five innings of game between the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins at Nationals Stadium in Washington, DC on October 2, 2016. Scherzer is looking for his 20th win of the season and considered one of the contenders for the Cy Yourng Award this year. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals spilled onto the field late Sunday afternoon, as the National League East champions celebrated their 95th win of the year, 50th victory at home and 20th triumph of the season for ace right-hander Max Scherzer.
Several of the Washington players and coaching staff, however, tipped their caps toward the third-base dugout of the Miami Marlins, who had experienced an awful week after death of their ace right-hander Jose Fernandez last Sunday.
As the Marlins head back to Florida to deal with another losing season and the loss of Fernandez, the Nationals will get ready for postseason play after a 10-7 win Sunday over the Marlins.
"Everyone wanted Max to get it," manager Dusty Baker said of the milestone. "We got it for him. I am very happy. He is so determined."
Scherzer won his league-high 20th game of the year and drove in a career-high four runs with two hits as the Nationals took two of three from the Marlins.
"That was our goal: to win the division. Now the fun begins," said Scherzer, who is expected to start Game 1 at home Friday against Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
And what about his four RBIs?
"That is a first. I was a pretty good hitter in high school," said Scherzer, who has won eight decisions in a row and has not lost since Aug. 9.
Said Baker of the four runs driven in: "That is what we will never hear the end of."
Washington's Wilmer Difo broke a 5-5 tie as he drove in a run with a fielder's choice in the last of the fifth. Danny Espinosa followed with a two-run homer -- his 24th of the year -- to make it 8-5 off reliever Austin Brice.
Those runs gave Scherzer (20-7) the win, as he left after giving up five runs on nine hits with seven strikeouts in five innings. He led the league with 284 strikeouts this year and gave up 31 homers, including two Sunday.
"It is unbelievable," Scherzer said. "It is such a team accomplishment. I don't win 20 games without the rest of the guys in this clubhouse. Everybody came together and got it done. It is really special."
Scherzer had not allowed five runs in a game since June 24. He won a career-high 21 games in 2013 with the Detroit Tigers.
"Guys kept playing," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of facing Scherzer. "Who knows what kind of energy he has, how he looked at it. He pitched really good against us all year. To be able to come back and make it a game, again, really proud of our guys the way they continue to play."
The Marlins almost denied Scherzer the milestone when Tomas Telis had a two-run single in the eighth to trim the lead to 8-7 with two outs off reliever Reynaldo Lopez. But Sammy Solis, a lefty, fanned pinch-hitter Jeff Francoeur to end the inning.
Washington's Trea Turner and Ben Revere added insurance in the eighth with RBI singles to make it 10-7. Mark Melancon pitched the ninth for his 17th save with the Nationals and 47th overall after he recorded 30 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Scherzer had a two-run single up the middle to drive in two runs in the fourth as the Nationals took a 5-2 lead. The right-hander also drove in two runs with a single to center in the second to make it 3-0 after battery-mate Jose Lobaton drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly. The four RBIs were the most by a pitcher in Nationals history, from 2005.
Telis hit his first big league homer, a two-run shot in fifth, to pull the Marlins to within 5-4. His homer scored Ichiro Suzuki, whose pinch-hit against Scherzer was the 3,030th hit of his MLB career. Christian Yelich (three hits) had an RBI triple in the fifth to tie game at 5.
Former Washington minor leaguer Destin Hood, the right fielder for the Marlins, hit the first homer of his career off Scherzer in the fourth. The two-run homer trimmed the Washington lead to 3-2.
The losing pitcher was Brice (0-1), who gave up three runs in the fifth. Marlins starter Tom Koehler gave up five runs in three innings. Telis, Hood and Dee Gordon had two hits for the Marlins.
Daniel Murphy (.347) of the Nationals was retired as pinch-hitter in the sixth in a failed attempt to beat out D.J. LeMahieu of the Colorado Rockies for the National League batting title.
Since the game had no bearing on the standings Mattingly allowed third baseman Martin Prado to be the honorary manager for the game. He started at third and went 1-for-2 and then was replaced by Derek Dietrich.
"Sometimes you question managerial guys making decisions," Prado said. "Now that I was in that spot - only for one game - I don't know if I can do it, man. There's so much stuff. The game speeds up and there's so many things you have to be aware of. I won't ever say anything bad about any manager."
NOTES: The Nationals will host the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. Game 2 is also slated for Washington on Saturday. ... Washington LF Jayson Werth, who left Friday's game in the seventh inning with back tightness, was not in the starting lineup Sunday and he did not play Saturday. ... The last time the Marlins had a winning season was 2009 at 87-75. ... The last time Washington had a losing record was 2011 at 80-81. ... Nationals manager Dusty Baker, who led the team to a division title in his first season, also won division titles with the San Francisco Giants in 1997 and 2000, the Chicago Cubs in 2003 and the Cincinnati Reds in 2010 and 2012. ... Marlins 1B Justin Bour, who started and hit fifth, played at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.