Max Scherzer's complete game helps Washington Nationals sweep San Francisco Giants

By Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange  |  June 1, 2017 at 11:52 AM
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Having hardly worked up a sweat in a 100-pitch, complete-game effort, Washington Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer immediately turned his attention to a tougher task late Wednesday night: Figuring out a way into Thursday's Game 1 of the NBA Finals while the Nationals spend the rest of the week in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"I've got to find someone with a ticket," Scherzer said after Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run home run in the first inning and the right-hander made it stand up for a 3-1 win over the San Francisco Giants and a three-game road sweep.

"This is great," Scherzer said of the fact the Nationals won't have to change hotels before changing venues to the Oakland Coliseum for a three-game series against the Athletics that begins on Friday night. "Now we get a day off, and the NBA Finals are on."

Scherzer threw just 100 pitches in his seventh career complete game that delivered the 1,799th win of Nationals manager Dusty Baker's career. He's second among active managers in wins behind the Giants' Bruce Bochy (1,811).

Almost half of Baker's wins (840 of 1,799) came in 10 seasons with the Giants. He has 128 with the Nationals.

The road sweep was the third of the season for the Nationals, who at 17-10 have the second-best road record in the National League behind the Colorado Rockies (18-9).

"When you're on the road and get a sweep, I think everybody had an impact in the series," Scherzer said. "The offense was getting early runs. The starting pitchers were doing their job. And the bullpen was great.

"That's what great teams do."

The Nationals played without star right fielder Bryce Harper, who earlier in the day accepted his suspension after it was lowered from four games to three on appeal. Harper, who was penalized for charging the mound in Monday's win over the Giants, is eligible to return Sunday in Oakland.

Zimmerman's 15th homer of the season came four batters into the game after an error by Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford and a one-out single by Daniel Murphy had put two runners aboard against San Francisco starter Matt Cain.

The homer was the 230th of Zimmerman's career, leaving him four shy of Vladimir Guerrero's team record of 234.

The home run was the first allowed by Cain in a home game this season.

"He's not gonna miss much," Cain said of Zimmerman. "That sometimes is the difference, especially when you go against a guy like Scherzer, not knowing what he's gonna do, but you know he's gonna go out there and throw the ball well."

Scherzer (6-3) beat the Giants for just the third time in seven career starts, limiting them to one run and five hits. He didn't walk anybody and struck out 11, his fifth double-figure strikeout game this season and the 54th of his career.

The complete game was his first of the season.

"He was masterful. He was dealing tonight," Baker said. "That's one of the best I've seen."

Cain (3-4) took the loss despite allowing two or fewer earned runs for the sixth consecutive time at home this season.

Trea Turner and Anthony Rendon had two hits apiece for the Nationals, who won for the eighth time in their last 10 games.

Brandon Belt, Buster Posey and Joe Panik had doubles for the Giants, who lost four of six games on their homestand.

"We've got to get this offense going," said Bochy, whose club was held to one or fewer runs in three of its six games on the homestand. "It's not going to happen until we get our core guys to get their numbers to where they're supposed to be. We still think that's going to happen."

Cain was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth inning, having allowed Zimmerman's three-run homer but no other runs in five innings. He gave up eight hits, three runs (one unearned) and one walk and struck out three.

Scherzer retired the first 10 batters he faced before Eduardo Nunez grounded a single past shortstop Turner with one out in the fourth inning.

Nunez got the Giants on the scoreboard two batters later when Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth and center fielder Michael Taylor allowed a routine fly ball off the bat of Posey to fall between them. Posey was credited with an RBI double that trimmed Washington's lead to 3-1.

NOTES: Nationals manager Dusty Baker seemed ready to move on from RF Bryce Harper's suspension. "Not happy that it was three (games)," Baker said of the reduced length of the suspension on appeal, "but three is better than four." ... Giants RHP Hunter Strickland, whose six-game suspension remains under appeal, pitched a scoreless eighth inning. ... The 100 pitches were the fewest thrown by Nationals RHP Max Scherzer in a nine-inning complete game in his career. ... Giants RF Hunter Pence (strained left hamstring) was scheduled to begin an injury-rehab stint at Class A San Jose on Wednesday night. The Giants expect Pence to join them at some point of a trip that begins Friday in Philadelphia. ... Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner (separated right shoulder) threw in the outfield before the game for the second consecutive day. He remains on schedule to return sometime in July. ... The Nationals announced Wednesday they had released 42-year-old RHP Joe Nathan, who was attempting a comeback from two Tommy John surgeries at Triple-A Syracuse.

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