Nationals unleash Scherzer on Cardinals

( – Max Scherzer has been as advertised for the Washington
Nationals and will try to maintain his strong form Thursday in the finale of a
three-game series versus the St. Louis Cardinals.

Scherzer lost his debut with the Nationals on April 6 in a 3-1 defeat to the
New York Mets and allowed three unearned run in 7 2/3 innings. He then posted
a no-decision on April 12 at Philadelphia, hurling six innings of one-run ball
in a 4-3 triumph.

The hard-throwing right-hander was in top form against the Phillies at home
last Friday, as he gave up only a run and four hits across eight innings of a
7-2 triumph. He struck out a season-high nine batters and did not issue a
walk. Scherzer has whiffed 25 batters with four walks this season.

“He’s hard to get a hold of,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said of Scherzer.
“It’s hard for guys to zone in and get a handle on him.”

In two career starts against the Cardinals, Scherzer is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA.

Washington was aiming for a series win Wednesday, but dropped a 7-5 decision
at Nationals Park. Kolten Wong snapped a 5-5 tie with an RBI double in the top
of the eighth inning and Matt Adams added an insurance homer in the ninth.

Blake Treinen was saddled with the loss in relief and Nationals starter Doug
Fister struggled through six innings, charged with five runs — four earned —
and seven hits with three K’s and two walks.

Yunel Escobar had three RBI and both Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman drove in
runs for the Nationals, who had won two straight and five of six games.

The Nationals will hit the road for the next 10 games against Miami, Atlanta
and the Mets.

St. Louis has won eight of its last 10 games and looks for a fourth straight
series win. Matt Carpenter hit a leadoff home run, Wong belted a two-run shot
in the second inning and Kevin Siegrist threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings of
relief for the win.

Cardinals starter John Lackey gave up five runs — all in the third inning —
and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.

“I definitely need to be there a little bit quicker, for sure,” Lackey said.
“Just one crazy inning.”

The Cardinals will visit Milwaukee next for three games.

St. Louis turns to Michael Wacha this afternoon and he is 2-0 with a 1.35
earned run average in two starts. Wacha held the Cincinnati Reds to a run over
6 1/3 innings of a 4-1 victory on the road in his season debut, then dazzled
through seven innings versus the Reds at home last Friday.

Wacha, a right-hander, limited the visitors to a run through seven frames in a
6-1 victory, struck out four and walked one batter. He has split two career
starts against Washington and has a 0.57 ERA in that time (15 2/3 IP).

St. Louis won five of seven meetings against Washington last season.