Sunday promised a pitching duel of the highest order and the game did not disappoint, with Zack Greinke and Max Scherzer delivering the goods. Greinke continued his ridiculous romp through opposing hitters, striking out a season-high 11 in the Dodgers' 5-0 victory over the Nationals on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park in Washington D.C.
Greinke threw a season-high 119 pitches in his eight scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and a walk. It was his sixth consecutive scoreless start, joining Don Drysdale (1968) and Orel Hershiser (1988) as the only starters in the live ball era (1920-present) with six straight scoreless starts.
Greinke's scoreless streak is now at an astonishing 43⅔ consecutive innings.
That's the longest streak since Hershiser's record streak of 59 straight innings in 1988, and the fourth-longest in the expansion era (1961-present), behind only Hershiser, Drysdale and Bob Gibson (1968), per the Elias Sports Bureau.
The game was 1-0 until the ninth inning, when the Dodgers use five hits to add four runs to their cushion.
Coupled with Clayton Kershaw striking out 14 in his eight scoreless innings on Saturday, the Dodgers got back-to-back starts of at least eight scoreless innings and double-digit strikeouts for the first time since at least 1914. It's only the 16th such game by a Dodgers pitcher in the last 102 years.
Both pitchers had impressive control streaks snapped on Sunday. Scherzer walked Yasmani Grandal in the first inning, his first free pass issued since June 14. Scherzer went 147 batters and 42 strikeouts in between walks.
Greinke walked Bryce Harper with two outs in the fourth inning, his first walk issued since June 28. Greinke went 75 batters and 21 strikeouts in between walks.
Greinke retired the first seven batters of the game before Michael Taylor singled with one out in the third inning. Taylor was later picked off first base to end the inning.
That single snapped a string of 28 consecutive batters retired by Greinke, dating back to his last start. It was the longest streak by a Dodgers pitcher since Greg Maddux, who retired 32 straight from Aug. 14-19, 2006.
Greinke's ERA on the season is 1.30. It's July, man.
The Dodgers somehow scratched across a run against the stingy Scherzer in the fourth inning, thanks to an Andre Ether double to open the frame. Grandal surprised everybody with a sacrifice bunt up the first base line (the first of his career) to move Ethier to third. It didn't look like it would work after Yasiel Puig struck out, one of four times he struck out on Sunday before delivering a two-run single in the ninth to break it open.
But a wild pitch by Scherzer with two outs allowed Ethier to score, giving Greinke the advantage he needed.
Ethier, batting cleanup for the first time since Aug. 28, 2013, was 3-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and a run batted in
Though Scherzer was tough as nails all day, the Dodgers were able to at least outlast him, getting him out of the game after six innings and 98 pitches.
The Dodgers loaded the bases with one out in the seventh inning, but strikeouts by Ethier and A.J. Ellis ended the insurance threat.
Ellis was in the game because Grandal took a foul tip off his mask and left the game in the sixth inning.
Howie Kendrick was 3-for-4, his second straight multi-hit game and his seventh game of three or more hits this season.
The Dodgers move on to Atlanta for a three-game series, beginning Monday night with former Braves hurler Brandon Beachy on the mound for Los Angeles. Atlanta will start Matt Wisler, acquired from the Padres in April in the Craig Kimbrel trade, making his sixth major league start.
Home runs: none
WP - Zack Greinke (9-2): 8 IP, 3 hits, 1 walk, 11 strikeouts
LP - Max Scherzer (10-8): 6 IP, 7 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts