The Associated Press
WASHINGTON–Eight years later, Max Scherzer still finds a little extra motivation when he faces his first major-league team.
Scherzer struck out a season-high 11 to bounce back from his worst outing this season as Washington doubled the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 yesterday after losing Bryce Harper to a groin injury.
Scherzer (4-2) allowed one run and two hits in seven innings against the team that drafted him in 2006.
“He came out strong and had that look in his eye,” said Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker.
“And you could tell by that opening pitch that he wanted to beat the Diamondbacks.”
Scherzer also went 2-for-3 at the plate, driving in Washington’s first run with a second-inning infield single that pitcher Braden Shipley could not pick up with his bare hand.
Scherzer is 5-0 with a 2.41 ERA in six starts against the Diamondbacks, who traded him to Detroit after the 2009 season.
He admitted facing his former team inspires him.
“You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t,” Scherzer remarked.
“But you’ve got to find something to motivate you every single time,” he stressed.
“You can’t out there and just rely on, ‘This is a former team.'”
Matt Albers pitched the eighth, Joe Blanton gave up Paul Goldschmidt’s lead-off homer in the ninth, and Enny Romero finished the four-hitter for his second major-league save.
Washington won the three-game series and finished its homestand at 3-3.
Scherzer gave up five runs on Travis d’Arnaud’s two homers in a 7-5 loss to the N.Y. Mets last Friday.
This time around, the NL CY Young Award winner struck out the side in the fourth and the seventh–the only two innings he allowed a hit.
He gave his fifth homer in three games, Jake Lamb’s seventh-inning drive.
“Look, if I give up solo home runs, so what? Bring them on,” Scherzer said.
Anthony Rendon hit a two-run double in the third that sailed over left-fielder Chris Herrmann, who made a poor read.
Harper, meanwhile, left the game after striking out in the sixth inning, three at-bats after he said he got hurt while diving to rob Shipley of a bloop base hit.
Baker called the injury day-to-day, and Harper suggested it wasn’t serious.
“Just trying to get out of there and get some treatment,” he noted, looking ahead to Washington’s next series.
“Everybody knows I want to play in Philly.”
Shipley (0-1), making his first big-league start this year after five outings at Triple-A, gave up three runs, five hits, and six walks in four-plus innings, throwing just 49 of 92 pitches for strikes.
The walks matched his career high, but the damage could have been worse after facing four batters with the bases loaded.
Elsewhere in the NL, Milwaukee beat St. Louis 5-4, Cincinnati doubled Pittsburgh 4-2, Chicago topped Philadelphia 5-4 (13 innings), and Colorado edged San Diego 3-2 (11 innings).
New York at Atlanta was postponed.
Tampa Bay beat Miami 5-1 in interleague play.