The Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA — Max Scherzer delivered a signature performance in what might be his last start for the Nationals, allowing three hits in six innings in the opener of a doubleheader that Washington ultimately split with the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday.
As reports swirled about an imminent trade of Scherzer in Game 2, Washington saw a seven-run lead melt away before Brad Miller’s grand slam off Nationals reliever Sam Clay (0-4) secured an 11-8 Philadelphia victory. Washington won the first game 3-1.
The Phillies moved back within 3 1/2 games of the first-place New York Mets in the NL East.
Scherzer sat in the top row of the visiting dugout for most of Game 2 with his feet up and talking to Yan Gomes, whose two-run seventh-inning homer in Game 1 off Philadelphia ace Zack Wheeler gave Scherzer (8-4) his 92nd — and likely final — win as a National in seven seasons.
“Today was a wacky start because of everything going on, but you put the blinders on and go and compete,” Scherzer said. “Even when you are at your worst, you want to go out and do your best.”
Before the first game began, the sputtering Nationals — who are 7-17 in July and are dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak that forced Wednesday’s game to be postponed — traded closer Brad Hand to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Scherzer allowed a fourth-inning homer to J.T. Realmuto while striking out five and walking three on 88 pitches. Kyle Finnegan stepped into the closer’s role and struck out two in the seventh for his first career save.
As Scherzer received handshakes in the Washington dugout, Gerardo Parra doubled and Gomes — who was reinstated from the 10-day injured list before the game — drilled a sinker from Wheeler (8-6) to center field for his ninth homer of the season.
Wheeler went the distance in the seven-inning game, allowing seven hits, walking two and striking out five on 100 pitches.
“We need to win some games,” Wheeler said. “That was a big game for us and I needed to go out and post some zeros, especially against Max because he’s going to hold us or try to and I let us down out there.”
Scherzer — a three-time Cy Young Award winner and a stalwart of Washington’s 2019 World Series-winning squad — will become a free agent at the end of the season.
In Game 2, Josh Harrison homered and Yadiel Hernandez had two hits and two RBIs as Washington jumped on the Phillies, who were trying to piece together a bullpen game, to lead 7-0 in the third.
Rhys Hoskins, Andrew McCutchen and Alec Bohm all homered off Nationals starter Patrick Corbin as the Phillies began their rally. Philadelphia scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh — including a two-out RBI single to left by Realmuto that tied the game.
Ranger Suarez (5-3) allowed Ryan Zimmerman’s RBI single in the eighth that made it 8-7. Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola was forced to enter as a pinch-hitter in the bottom half and drew a walk off Clay to load the bases. Miller followed with a towering shot that smacked off an advertising sign in the upper deck for his 10th homer of the season and second career grand slam.
“Baseball kicks you all the time,” Miller said. “It was a long day at the park, but we needed that. Just looking over to the bench and seeing the guys going crazy — that’s what I loved.”
Giants 5, Dodgers 0
SAN FRANCISCO — Brandon Crawford doubled home two runs in his first at-bat after coming back from a left oblique strain and San Francisco took two of three from Los Angeles.
Wilmer Flores, Austin Slater and LaMonte Wade Jr. also drove in runs for San Francisco, which extended its NL West lead over Los Angeles to three games. The Dodgers were shut out for the third time this season.
Johnny Cueto (7-4) struck out five over 5 2/3 innings, while walking two and allowing four hits.
Reds 7, Cubs 4
CHICAGO — Joey Votto set a Reds franchise record by homering in his sixth consecutive game as Cincinnati beat Chicago.
The 37-year-old Votto homered six times in the four-game series at Wrigley Field, and the big first baseman has eight home runs in the six-game streak for a record that dated back to 1900.
Votto’s 20th homer of the season was a two-run shot in the first, when he hit a fastball from Alec Mills (4-4) into the center field bleachers.
Chicago went ahead 3-2 lead before the Reds roughed up Mills in the sixth to go ahead to stay.
The Cubs scored three runs off Luis Castillo (5-10).
Blue Jays 13, Red Sox 1
BOSTON — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a three-run homer out of Fenway Park, Hyun Jin Ryu held Boston to two hits over six innings and Toronto routed the Red Sox.
Teoscar Hernández hit a two-run double for the Blue Jays, who tagged the Red Sox for 16 hits and scored in six of the first seven innings while building a 12-0 lead. The Blue Jays went 9 for 20 with runners in scoring position.
Ryu (10-5) struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.
Bobby Dalbec hit an RBI double in the seventh for Boston. The Red Sox finished with six hits.
The Red Sox got All-Star slugger Kyle Schwarber from the Washington Nationals for a minor league pitcher late Thursday night.
Boston is 1 1/2 games ahead of Tampa Bay.
Royals 5, White Sox 0
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Carlos Hernandez pitched six scoreless innings, Salvador Perez homered and Kansas City beat Chicago.
Perez put the Royals ahead with his 25th homer, a two-run shot in the first inning off Carlos Rodon (8-5).
Hernandez (2-1) allowed four hits, with one walk and four strikeouts. Rodon gave up four runs on eight hits over four taxing innings.
Tigers 6, Orioles 2
DETROIT — Miguel Cabrera hit two solo home runs — Nos. 496 and 497 — and Casey Mize pitched seven solid innings as Detroit topped Baltimore.
Mize (6-5) held the Orioles scoreless until they pushed across an unearned run, the only run he allowed, in the seventh. The rookie right-hander gave up four hits and struck out two in his first victory since June 26.
Eric Haase drove in two runs and Jeimer Candelario added three hits, including an RBI triple, for Detroit.
Orioles starter Alexander Wells (1-1) allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings.
Brewers 12, Pirates 0
PITTSBURGH — Manny Piña hit two homers and drove in a career-high five runs as Milwaukee routed Pittsburgh.
Piña’s sixth homer of the season capped a five-run sixth inning for the Brewers. He added a two-run homer in the eighth. Rowdy Tellez added a solo home run in the seventh.
The Brewers outscored Pittsburgh 28-3 while sweeping the series. Milwaukee has won five of its last six and increased its lead over second-place Cincinnati to seven games in the NL Central.
Athletics 4, Angels 0
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Frankie Montas struck out 10 over seven scoreless innings and Oakland took advantage of some early Los Angeles miscues to win in Starling Marte’s debut.
Marte, who was acquired in a trade from the Miami Marlins this week in exchange for left-hander Jesus Luzardo, went 1 for 4 with a walk and scored in the first inning. The A’s scored three times in the opening inning with just one hit.
Angels right-hander Dylan Bundy (1-8) gave up three runs on just two hits, but walked four and hit a batter in 4 1/3 innings.
Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, who hit his MLB-leading 37th home run Wednesday and had gone deep in three of his previous four games, walked three times and struck out in four at-bats.
Padres 3, Rockies 0
SAN DIEGO — Joe Musgrove struck out 11 in seven scoreless innings, leading San Diego over Colorado.
Musgrove (7-7) gave up an infield single in the first inning to Brendan Rodgers and a single in the first and a double in the fourth to Charlie Blackmon, and that was the extent of the Rockies offense against him.
Padres closer Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth for his major league-leading 32nd save.