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Scherzer has rare bad outing, as Cueto gets best of Nats

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Scherzer has rare bad outing, as Cueto gets best of Nats

Max Scherzer came to Washington with a Cy Young award and World Series experience, yet somehow he surpassed expectations through the first half of the 2015 season.

So, on Tuesday night when he lasted just 4 2/3 innings and gave up five earned runs in a loss to the Cincinnati Reds, his struggles were not only uncharacteristic, they were very surprising.

Every once in a while, on the rarest of nights, professional MLB hitters can expose Scherzer as a mere mortal? You don't say.

"I mean, Max is a human being, still," Clint Robinson said. "There's still a reason he goes up there and competes."

"We all know that pitchers give up runs. No one’s ever finished the year with a zero ERA, a starter," Ian Desmond said.

After five questions about his bad outing, Scherzer smiled and broke the news to reporters.

"Guys, I've had stinkers before. This is part of the deal, part of the gig," he said.

A stinker it was, and it sure was rare. This was the first time all season Scherzer had not pitched at least six innings. It was his first time not completing five innings since June 17, 2014. That's a span of 34 starts. The longest current streak of that sort, by the way, is held by Tuesday's winning pitcher, Johnny Cueto, who is at 52 after his nine shutout innings against the Nats.

Before Tuesday, Scherzer had allowed just four runs in 34 1/3 innings across his previous four starts. Given how well Scherzer had been pitching, he isn't ready to panic.

"This is not one of those games where you beat yourself up for it. You just don't have it. When you think you have it and you just don't make pitches, that's when you start throwing chairs. This isn't one," he explained.

"If it happens my next start where I don't feel like I have location, where I can execute pitches, then I'll start critiquing it and figuring out why."

The Reds got to Scherzer early with two runs in the first inning, one on a Joey Votto double and the other on a Jay Bruce triple. Votto also added a homer in the third and an RBI single in the fifth.

Votto - a former NL MVP - finished 3-for-3 off Scherzer and led the way for a Reds lineup that did not look like the team their 38-44 record says they are.

"I made mistakes, they hit them hard and they hit them far. Just one of those days," Scherzer said. "The home run pitch felt like was right down the middle. [Votto] is good enough, he's going to smash it."

With Scherzer off, it was more than enough to help Cueto, who ended the night with a 2.61 ERA on the year after his first complete game of the season. It was one of the best starts of his career and his fifth shutout.

"You can fall into the trap of letting him dictate your timing," Robinson said. "He does a good job of doing his little wobbles and his quick-pitches and all that stuff. It kind of throws you off. He's that guy that doesn't mess up over the plate. He just doesn't make mistakes."

Scherzer did make mistakes, but is not worried they will persist in his next turn.

"I don't get fazed by them anymore. I still feel like I can throw the ball well. This isn't going to deter me in any way moving forward," he said.

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Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

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Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams drop slightly but still near top in MLB All-Star Game votes

The MLB All-Star Game is at Nationals Park and is now less than a month away, so let's check in on how D.C.'s top players and fan favorites are doing in the voting. 

After the first National League All-Star Game ballot update last week, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Matt Adams were the three Nationals among the top players receiving votes. And while that's still the case, they've all dropped one position since last week. Perhaps because of the Nats' recent slump?

Opening as the No. 1 outfielder, Harper is now No. 2 in the voting with 1,002,696 tallies, behind Atlanta Braves right fielder Nick Markakis with 1,173,653 votes. They are, however, the only two outfielders with more than a million votes and 2-of-5 overall in the voting. 

Adams — who was 14th among outfielders last week — slid one spot to No. 15 with 237,165 votes.

Last week, Turner was the No. 4 shortstop on the ballot, but he has since dropped to No. 4 with 279,071 votes. He's behind San Francisco Giants' Brandon Crawford, Braves' Dansby Swanson, Chicago Cubs' Addison Russell and Colorado Rockies' Trevor Story — who was the one to jump Turner this time around. 

If you're a Nats fan who doesn't like these results, don't worry. You can keep voting until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and you can vote up to five times every 24 hours. Read more about how to vote for your favorite players in the MLB All-Star Game HERE

The 2018 NL-AL matchup is in Washington, D.C. on July 17.

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Nationals bats get hot, but not enough vs. Blue Jays

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Nationals bats get hot, but not enough vs. Blue Jays

TORONTO — Washington Nationals reliever Ryan Madson had spent the past couple of weeks thinking about how long he'd gone between giving up home runs.

He won't have to wonder about it any more after the Toronto Blue Jays burned him with back-to-back blasts.

Teoscar Hernandez and Yangervis Solarte broke a tie with consecutive home runs in the eighth inning, Randal Grichuk added a pair of solo shots and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Washington Nationals 8-6 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Hernandez and Solarte connected off Madson (1-3) as the Blue Jays won their seventh consecutive home game. Hernandez hit his 12th home run while Solarte's was his team-leading 15th.

"Everybody knows Madson is one of the best relievers in the league," Hernandez said. "We made some adjustments, took good swings, and hit it hard."

Madson last gave up a home run on June 4, 2017, while pitching for Oakland against Washington, when Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run shot.

"I've been thinking about it a little bit because it seemed like it had been a while," Madson said of his year-plus streak. "It's kind of been on my mind for the last couple of weeks."

Madson, who allowed two home runs in all of 2017, blamed poor fastball command for his rough outing.

"I envisioned the inning going a lot different than that, obviously," he said. "The stuff was good but no command of it."

Hernandez went 3 for 4 and was hit by a pitch, reaching bases four times.

Grichuk went 3 for 3 with a bases-loaded walk. He homered off Tanner Roark in the second and went deep again off Shawn Kelley in the fifth. The homers were the sixth and seven of the season for Grichuk, five of which have come in June.

Kevin Pillar and Kendrys Morales each had two hits and an RBI for the Blue Jays, who are 6-2 in interleague play this season.

"Every game we win means a lot," Hernandez said. "We're just trying to get closer to the fight for first and second (wild card) spots."

Washington has lost five of six.

"You never want to get swept but I'm glad we swung the bats today," manager Dave Martinez said. "We haven't been swinging very well. I'll take our chances very time we score six runs."

Grichuk snapped a 5-5 tie with an RBI single off Justin Miller in the seventh but the Nationals answered in the eighth with Brian Goodwin's RBI single off Toronto's Tyler Clippard.

Ryan Tepera (4-2) pitched the final 1 1-3 innings for the win.

Slumping Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper started as the designated hitter and went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts, dropping his average to .217.

Harper, who has seven hits in his past 51 at bats, flied out to leave the bases loaded against Tepera in the eighth.

Neither starter lasted more than four innings. Blue Jays right-hander Sam Gaviglio allowed three runs and six hits while Roark allowed four runs and eight hits.

"I stunk today," Roark said.

THIEVERY

Toronto allowed a season-worst five stolen bases, four of them by Michael A. Taylor. The five steals matched Washington's season-high.

CATCH WITH DAD

On Father's Day, the sons and daughters of several Blue Jays tossed ceremonial first pitches to their dads, a group that included Solarte, Pillar, Morales, Aledmys Diaz and pitchers J.A Happ and John Axford.

FATHERHOOD

Gaviglio left before the game was over to fly home to Washington state after learning his wife had gone into labor with the couple's first child.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: 1B Matt Adams (left hand) was out of the lineup for a second straight day. Adams was hit by a pitch while attempting to bunt Friday. Daniel Muprhy made his second straight start at first.

Blue Jays: OF Steve Pearce (strained left oblique) went 2 for 2 with a walk in his second rehab game at Triple-A Buffalo. Pearce went 1 for 3 with a single and a walk Saturday.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Washington returns home Monday to face the New York Yankees. The teams will resume a May 15 game that was suspended with the score tied 3-3 in the middle of the sixth inning. Following the completion of that game, the Nationals and Yankees will make up a May 16 game that was postponed by rain. RHP Erick Fedde (0-1, 5.91) will start the nine-inning game. The Yankees have not named a starter.

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