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Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 8: Scherzer's second no-hitter

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Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 8: Scherzer's second no-hitter

We are counting down the 10 biggest moments of 2015 for the Nationals as we approach New Year's Day. In the third installment, we look back at Max Scherzer's second no-hitter of the season, when he shut down the New York Mets...

By the time the Nationals faced the Mets at Citi Field in the final series of the 2015 regular season, they had already come to terms with the disappointment of a year defined by what could have been. It had been over a week since they were officially eliminated from the playoffs and there was little left to play for. The Mets were coasting after locking up the division with dreams of a World Series run on their mind, while the Nats were playing out the string with the offseason on the horizon.

When Max Scherzer took the mound on Oct. 3, all that was left to play for was pride. The season would end the following day and Scherzer had already done enough to certify his first year in Washington as a success. The guy had already thrown a no-hitter, the first of his career and the second in Nationals history. He had already made the All-Star team and emerged as the leader of one of the most talented pitching staffs in baseball.

Sometimes special moments in baseball come at the most random of times, when you least expect it. That was the case for Jordan Zimmermann's no-hitter in 2014 and that was certainly the case for Scherzer in his final outing of 2015.

With a cast around him that resembled a spring training lineup - including rookies Trea Turner, Michael Taylor, Clint Robinson and Wilmer Difo - Scherzer dominated the Mets for his second no-hitter of 2015. He became just the fifth player in MLB history to have two no-hitters in one regular season and capped off arguably the best year ever for a Nats pitcher.

Amazingly enough, through the first two innings that day, Scherzer was perhaps overshadowed by his counterpart, Matt Harvey, who came out on fire by striking out five of the first six batters he faced. But Scherzer was methodical as he dissected the Mets lineup, keeping his pitch count down early before gaining strength later on.

Through 5 2/3 innings, Scherzer had eight strikeouts. He hadn't allowed a hit, but had just seen his first batter reach base on a Yunel Escobar error. The chance at history was there, but no one could have predicted the tear Scherzer would go on next.

Scherzer struck out the next nine batters he faced, beginning with the final out of the sixth inning and finishing with two outs in the ninth. That left Curtis Granderson, who popped out to third base for the final out.

Scherzer's nine consecutive strikeouts set a Nationals record and fell just one short of Tom Seaver's all-time mark. He finished with 17 total strikeouts which is also a Nats' team record and tied for the most ever in a no-hitter (Nolan Ryan, 1973). Only 12 pitchers have ever reached 17 strikeouts or more in a single game without issuing a walk.

Based on Bill James' game score, Scherzer's no-hitter against the Mets was the second-greatest pitching performance of all time at 104, trailing only Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout gem of 1998 which recorded a 105. He became the first pitcher in MLB history to have three nine-inning games in one season with a game score of 97 or higher. 

Scherzer's second no-hitter didn't make up for the Nationals' missing the playoffs or losing their crown as NL East champions. It didn't make the team's 2015 season as a whole a success. But it did provide a positive moment for both the team and its fans to close out a year that most would like to forget. Despite the circumstances, Scherzer's second no-no will go down as one of the greatest games ever pitched and one of the best days in Nationals history.

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More from the countdown:

Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 10: Scherzer signs

Nats 2015 biggest moments No. 9: Trade deadline series vs. Mets

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Turner, Adams power Nats over Giants to end 4-game skid

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Turner, Adams power Nats over Giants to end 4-game skid

SAN FRANCISCO -- Trea Turner got five hits, Matt Adams homered and drove in six runs, and the Washington Nationals broke out of their offensive funk in a big way, routing the San Francisco Giants 15-2 Wednesday to end a four-game losing streak.

The Nationals had totaled just eight runs during their skid. Andrew Stevenson had two doubles, two singles and four RBIs as Washington set season highs for runs and hits (18).

Manager Dave Martinez's ballclub has been stunted by a rash of injuries this season but salvaged the final game of the three-game series at AT&T Park series to end a rough 4-5 road trip. Max Scherzer (5-1) did his part, striking out 10 in six innings.

Turner came into the game batting .232, and the leadoff man's slow start had contributed to the Nationals' struggles. He raised his batting average 35 points, tying a career high for hits in a game. He also scored twice, drove in two runs and stole his 10th base this season.

Adams matched his career best for RBIs. He singled as part of a three-run first, put the Nationals up 6-1 with a three-run homer off Jeff Samardzija (1-1) in the fourth and added a two-run single in the eighth.

The Nationals scored 14 of their 15 runs with two outs.

Scherzer earned his fourth consecutive win, all of them coming after a Washington loss. He allowed two runs and five hits, and reached double figures in strikeouts for the fourth time in six starts this season.

Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval each two hits apiece for the Giants.

Samardzija labored through a 30-pitch first inning and was done after retiring 11 batters. He gave up six runs on eight hits with three walks.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman and 2B Howie Kendrick were given the day off.

Giants: Mac Williamson was a late scratch because of neck stiffness, one day after stumbling over the bullpen pitching mound and crashing into a low fence while chasing a foul ball. ... RHP Chris Stratton was placed on the paternity list. ... RHP Roberto Gomez was called up from Triple-A Sacramento.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (2-2, 2.97 ERA) pitches against the Diamondbacks on Friday in Washington. He has yielded six earned runs and three homers over his last 13 innings.

Giants: LHP Derek Holland (0-3, 4.98) faces the Los Angeles Dodgers in the opener of a four-game series at AT&T Park on Friday night. Holland is winless in two career starts against the Dodgers.

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Williamson homers again, Giants top Nationals 4-3

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Williamson homers again, Giants top Nationals 4-3

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mac Williamson had to dust himself off after crashing into a low padded wall near the stands in left field while chasing a foul ball.

More frustrated than hurt, Williamson took it out on Nationals pitcher Tanner Roark a few moments later after undergoing a series of concussion tests in the dugout.

Williamson homered for the second straight night and third in five games, hitting a tiebreaking shot in the sixth inning to lead San Francisco to a 4-3 victory over Washington on Tuesday night.

"I got pretty lucky," Williamson said. "I felt fine then and I feel fine now. I'm sure once the adrenalin wears off later tonight, tomorrow we'll see how the body feels. I'm sure I'll be a little sore."

Brandon Belt hit his fifth home run in six games, Joe Panik added three hits and scored twice, and the Giants won their third straight and fourth in the last five.

One night after hitting a 464-foot homer in the series opener, Williamson hit a first-pitch solo shot to center off Roark with two outs in the sixth inning that bounced off the top of the wall and broke a 3-all tie. It wasn't as far as Monday's clout -- this one went 423 feet -- but was just as pivotal for the Giants.

"We've talked about what a shot in the arm he's been and he's more than that," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He came through again tonight. Good for him because he's worked hard at it."

Williamson's deciding home run came one inning after he stumbled over the bullpen mound in foul territory and crashed into a low wall near the stands while trying to chase down Bryce Harper's foul ball. Williamson stayed down briefly as team trainers rushed out before getting to his feet.

"I tried to roll my neck a little bit and my head down a little bit when I started going down," Williamson said. "I think that helped break my fall. I was just a little frustrated I didn't come up with the play. I had it in my glove and it came out."

Belt hit a two-run shot off Roark (1-2) in the third.

Michael Taylor had a three-run homer for Washington, which has lost four straight and 14 of 20 since opening the season 4-0.

"It seems like that sixth inning's been biting us in the rear as of late," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "We're swinging the bats. We just can't get the big hit with people on base."

Reyes Moronta (1-0) retired six batters for his first career win. Sam Dyson pitched one inning and Hunter Strickland worked the ninth for his fifth save.

The Giants got a run off Roark in the first but left the bases loaded when Evan Longoria struck out looking to end the inning. Belt homered on a 3-2 pitch from Roark in the second to make it 3-0.

Washington tied it on Taylor's three-run homer off starter Ty Blach in the third. Ryan Zimmerman walked and Moises Sierra singled before Taylor's deep drive into the right-field stands.

Roark went into the game 6-0 in seven career games against San Francisco but couldn't find a rhythm this time. He allowed four runs on six hits, walked two and hit a batter and threw a pair of wild pitches.

WHERE DID IT GO?

Panik hit a soft comebacker to Roark in the fifth that glanced off the pitcher's glove then bounced up on the top of his cap before falling to the turf. Roark initially couldn't locate the ball but found it in time to throw to first for the out.

AILING BLACH

Blach allowed three runs and four hits in five innings. After the game, Bochy said the left-hander suffered from food poisoning last week and was given an IV on Monday. "That was a really gutty effort that he gave us," Bochy said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: Placed RHP Shawn Kelley on the 10-disabled list with ulnar nerve irritation in his right elbow. Infielder/outfielder Matt Reynolds was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse and outfielder Rafael Bautista and infielder Adrian Sanchez were called up.

UP NEXT

Nationals RHP Max Scherzer (4-1, 1.36 ERA) and Giants RHP Jeff Samardzija (1-0, 0.00) take to the mound for the series finale at AT&T Park on Wednesday. Samardzija is making his second start after beginning the season on the disabled list.