Max Scherzer had his worst outing of the season the last time he visited Marlins Park and vowed to do better in his next trip.
Scherzer struck out 10 in eight innings and won his fifth straight start, leading the Washington Nationals over the Miami Marlins 6-1 on Tuesday night.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner allowed season highs in hits (11) and earned runs (six) in a 9-3 loss on April 20 the last time he was at Marlins Park.
The announced crowd was 7,327 for the rematch.
“You’ve got to come down here and you might not have many fans in the stands, there’s no atmosphere here, but you’ve got to mentally bring it every single time,” Scherzer said.
“They know how to play in this atmosphere and that’s what they’re really good at, catching you and grinding you away. It’s happened to me coming down here. I was fully aware of that and I wanted to come out there and really put an ‘A’ game against them,” he said.
Scherzer (7-5) is 5-0 with a 0.92 ERA over his last seven starts and has fanned exactly 10 in three straight games. He also had two hits and scored twice.
“It’s fun because it makes it a quicker game and we’re not standing around so much,” Nationals shortstop Trea Turner said. “He pitched great. You see it time and time again and he does it different ways.”
Scherzer allowed five hits and one run while throwing 71 of 94 pitches for strikes. He credited catcher Kurt Suzuki with making things easy.
“We had a good game plan going in on what we wanted to work on, when we wanted to throw each pitch, and really executed with every single off-speed pitch. When I can do that and be consistent with my off-speed pitches, it makes Zuk that much better and he gets fired up because he knows he can put together some sequences.”
Turner hit a three-run homer and Juan Soto knocked in two runs for the Nationals, who have won six of eight.
Miami had its four-game winning streak end, and manager Don Mattingly and shortstop Miguel Rojas were ejected in the eighth by plate umpire Mike Estabrook for arguing. Rojas struck out earlier in the inning.
“I feel it was more of a personal thing,” Rojas said. “I wasn’t happy with that call right there. I feel sometimes they make calls because the game is a little open right there and you can’t come back.”
Trevor Richards (3-8) allowed a season-high six runs in five innings. Curtis Granderson knocked in the Marlins’ only run while Garrett Cooper had his 14-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-for-4 night.
The Nationals scored three runs in the third on Soto’s two-run single and a grounder by Howie Kendrick.
Turner’s sixth homer of the season gave the Nationals a 6-0 lead in the fourth.
“They made me throw pitches up and took advantage of those pitches,” Richards said.
Granderson’s RBI single in the fourth was the first run Scherzer had allowed in 13 innings.
“You’re always going to be in a battle every time you face him,” Mattingly said. “You’ve got to stay with him. When you get behind early, it puts you in a bind with him.”
Adam Conley relieved Richards and struck out seven in three innings. It was the fourth time in Marlins history a reliever had at least seven strikeouts, the first since Merandy Gonzalez fanned seven in May 2018.
The Nationals tried to boost their bullpen, calling up veteran relievers Fernando Rodney and Jonny Venters from the minors.
The 42-year-old Rodney pitched a scoreless ninth and, as usual, enjoyed an arrow-shooting celebration when it was over. The right-handed Rodney, who was with Oakland earlier this season, is with his 11th major league team.
Venters, a 34-year-old lefty, pitched for Atlanta this season. He’s come back from three Tommy John surgeries.
The Nats sent righty Kyle McGowin to Triple-A Fresno and transferred right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (shoulder) to the 60-day injured list.
Soto has extended his hitting streak to 10 games. He is hitting .429 (15 for 35) with two doubles, two triples, two home runs, and 11 RBIs during that span.
Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman (foot) has been rehabbing with Double-A Harrisburg and is aiming toward a return in the weekend series at Detroit. “If everything goes well from now until then, he’ll meet us in Detroit,” manager Dave Martinez said. “He had a good day yesterday, will DH today, and hopefully if he feels good play nine innings tomorrow and then we’ll see where we’re at.” … RHP Jeremy Hellickson was transferred to the 60-day injured list. “It’s going to be a little longer process than we thought and we just want to make sure he’s OK,” Martinez said.
Marlins: 1B Neil Walker (quad) was reinstated from the 10-day injured list. … LHP Caleb Smith (hip) will make another rehab start before rejoining the team after he struck out 11 in 4 1/3 innings on 71 pitches for Double-A Jacksonville on Monday. “I know Caleb probably feels he’s ready to go, but for us it wouldn’t be over 90 pitches the next time out and it puts us in a little bit of a bind,” Mattingly said. “I think we’ve got to get Caleb all the way back to full speed.”
Nationals: LHP Patrick Corbin (6-5, 3.90 ERA) threw a complete game against the Marlins on May 25.
Marlins: RHP Zac Gallen (0-0, 1.80) will make his second big league start after allowing one run in five innings at St. Louis in his debut.
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