WASHINGTON -- Max Scherzer struck out a season-high 11 to bounce back from his worst outing this season, and the Washington Nationals defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 on Thursday.
Scherzer (4-2) allowed one run and two hits in seven innings. He also was 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.
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 up Jake Lamb's homer in the seventh.
In his previous outing, Scherzer gave up five runs on Travis d'Arnaud's two homers in a 7-5 loss to the Mets last Friday.
Matt Albers pitched the eighth, Joe Blanton gave up Paul Goldschmidt's leadoff 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 3-3.
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.
Anthony Rendon hit a two-run double in the third that sailed over left fielder Chris Herrmann, who made a poor read.
The All-Star break is a perfect opportunity to sit down and re-evaluate the landscape of Major League Baseball. As it turns out, however, there aren't as many meaningful moves as one might expect.
The unrivaled dominance of the Astros, Red Sox, and Yankees sets us up for a wildly entertaining October, and the uber-talented rosters of the Indians, Cubs and Dodgers will make noise as well. Still, it means the top three (and, moving down, the next three to four teams) in our power rankings haven't experienced much variance in 2018.
The gap between the haves and the have-nots has never been more pronounced than it is in this era, which means the bottom-four teams have stayed pretty steady since May. Yes, the Reds have made a nice jump since Jim Riggleman took over, and the Orioles are about 15 spots lower than we had them in March, but none of the major moves will have any real impact on who we expect to win the World Series this year.
That doesn't mean it's not worthwhile to see where each team stands, however, and these are certainly still subject to change. The Nationals, for example, have enough talent and starpower on the roster to jump into the top six or seven teams as a legitimate title contender at some point.
The stars are out in D.C. this week, as baseball converges onto the nation's capital. Are the hometown team's stars enough to keep the roster in the conversation for the playoffs?
MORE BASEBALL COVERAGE
It's dinger donging time.
Tonight's the night that Nats fans have looked forward to for a few years now — a Home Run Derby in D.C. featuring Bryce Harper, who's favored to win this year's contest. All eyes will be on Harper and Nats Park and I guess everyone else who's taking part in the event, and NBC Sports Washington will have you covered from batting practice through the last mashed tater.
Make sure to follow along on our social channels as well, where we'll be sure to be supplying okayish tweets all night.
8:30 PM - Jesús Aguilar "only" hit 12, so Hoskins moves on from this round. For what it's worth, Aguilar wore his hat backwards and therefore should have advanced.
8:20 PM - Rhys Hoskins is up first, and after a slow start hoooooo boy did he find a groove. He ends the first round with 17 homers.
8:00 PM - Bryce is our King:
Stylin' Bryce Harper (6 p.m.)
We knew the Nats' slugger was ready to show his love for his team and the MLB All-Star Game's host city with some spectacular Washington-themed cleats, but Harper took it a step further Monday before the fun started. Harper is hitting in the derby with a special cherry blossom bat, as an additional nod to the nation's capital.
MORE ALL-STAR NEWS