LOS ANGELES -- Max Scherzer knows exactly what he is. At age 32 and in his 10th major league season, he has absolutely no doubt.
"I'm a strikeout pitcher," Scherzer said. "That's just who I am."
No one had to convince the Los Angeles Dodgers after Scherzer struck out a season-high 14, outpitching Brandon McCarthy to lead the Washington Nationals to a 2-1 victory that ended with a testy exchange Tuesday night.
Show up to work. Strike out 10+. Rest. 🔁 pic.twitter.com/LWlJM175t3— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 7, 2017
With a runner on second base, Koda Glover fanned Yasiel Puig for the final out and shouted in the direction of home plate. Not pleased, Puig walked toward the mound and twice appeared to ask Glover what he said.
Glover took off his cap and tossed aside his glove as players from both teams quickly intervened to keep the two separated. Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman pulled Glover away, and nothing escalated before the squads headed off the field.
"Tempers flared a little bit," Glover said. "It is what it is. I don't have any hard feelings towards him. He was staring at me and I didn't like it."
Both starting pitchers went seven innings and allowed only three hits. The first 11 outs for Scherzer (7-3) came on strikeouts.
"He can get sharp when he needs to be," Washington manager Dusty Baker said. "He had quite a few pitches early. The strikeouts don't help your pitch total, but Max was outstanding."
For the second consecutive night, a scuffling Nationals bullpen came through. Oliver Perez held the Dodgers scoreless in the eighth and Glover worked the ninth to earn his eighth save in nine tries.
"He knows what he wants to do," Scherzer said. "He's a closer. He wants the ball. He's not afraid of anybody. He's going to attack the zone. He has unbelievable stuff. He has the attitude to go out there with a chip on his shoulder."
Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy each had a sacrifice fly for Washington, which has won the first two games of this series between NL pennant contenders.
Los Angeles took a tense playoff series between the teams last year, winning in five games.
Trea Turner opened the game by beating out a little tapper to third. He stole second and third before scoring on Harper's sacrifice fly.
The Dodgers answered with a run in the bottom half after Chase Utley singled. Corey Seager's grounder to second was bobbled by Murphy for an error, and Adrian Gonzalez lined a single to score Utley.
The Nationals scored the go-ahead run in the fourth after Harper led off with a ground-rule double. Zimmerman's groundout moved him to third, and Murphy hit a deep sac fly to center field.
McCarthy (5-3), who lasted only four innings in his previous start because of a blister, walked two and struck out four.
"It seems like every single time he gets out there he has control of the game, and he's so well prepared," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "For us to have him healthy -- and we got through that blister thing tonight -- I think that's a victory in itself."
Scherzer walked two and did not permit an earned run. He struck out Taylor and Yasmani Grandal three times each. The two-time Cy Young Award winner has 38 strikeouts in his last three starts.