Scherzer struck out 14 in seven innings for the win, but even though he left several batters muttering on the way back to the third base dugout, the Dodgers still had their chances against the Nationals right-hander.
The Dodgers cashed in on their first opportunity of the night, after a single and a fielding error to start the first inning. Adrian Gonzalez cashed in a run with an RBI single, but that proved to be the extent of the Dodgers’ offense, one that has scored two or fewer runs in six of their last seven games.
Scherzer had 10 strikeouts through the first 10 outs of the game, thanks in part to a passed ball in the third inning by Matt Wieters. That, coupled with two walks and a throwing error by Scherzer on a pickoff attempt set up the Dodgers with a golden opportunity to score, but Chris Taylor struck out with the bases loaded to end the threat.
Scherzer has 74 strikeouts over his last seven starts, including five games with double-digit strikeouts during that span.
Game of inches
Both Nationals runs were of the manufactured variety. Trea Turner reached on an infield single, stole two bases, then scored on a sacrifice fly in the first inning. Then in the fourth, Bryce Harper led off with a drive down the right field line that appeared to touch the smallest speck of chalk, good enough for a ground rule double instead of a long strike.
A ground ball to the right side then another sacrifice fly gave the Nationals the lead.
With one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, Yasiel Puig turned on a pitch and lined a ball just off the short wall in left field for a double of his own. Had it been hit a few inches higher, the game would have been tied. But it wasn’t, and after a strikeout and line out to center field that threat was neutralized.
The lack of offense by the Dodgers masked a highly effective start from Brandon McCarthy, who pitched seven innings for the second time this season, giving the club back-to-back seven-inning outings from the rotation.
McCarthy allowed just three hits and struck out four while walking two. He has a 1.96 ERA over his last four starts.
We get an excellent pitching matchup to close things out on Wednesday afternoon, with Clayton Kershaw starting for the Dodgers against Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals in a 12:10 p.m. PT contest.
Home runs: none
WP - Max Scherzer (7-3): 7 IP, 3 hits, 1 unearned run, 2 walks, 14 strikeouts
LP - Brandon McCarthy (5-3): 7 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
Sv - Koda Glover (8): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout