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Pirates Fall To Nationals

Pittsburgh Pirates starter Steven Brault pitches against the Washington Nationals in the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

PITTSBURGH — To Max Scherzer, a short outing was totally OK.

“I can’t get hurt again,” the Washington Nationals ace said. “That’s just the reality of this.”

Scherzer pitched four innings in his return from the injured list Thursday night and the Nationals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-1.

Scherzer allowed one run and four hits, struck out three and walked one. The three-time Cy Young Award winner was put on the IL on July 26 with a strain in his upper back — a day earlier, he made his first start since being on the injured list with a back issue.

“I just wanted to come out here, not really empty the tank tonight, and just try to pitch,” Scherzer said. “Got out here and was able to go four innings, and got to get a good feel for this, of getting back in there.”

“I feel pretty good post-start. With this whole process of trying to learn what’s going on here, it’s a recovery,” he said.

The Nationals hadn’t set a pitch count for Scherzer in this game, but said they would closely monitor him. He threw 71 pitches, 48 for strikes.

“He threw 70-plus pitches, and he felt good,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “He was a little gassed, which we figured he would be. His intensity was like always and he got through it.”

Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick homered for Washington, which leads the NL wild-card race and won for the ninth time in 11 games.

The Pirates fell to 8-30 since the All-Star break. Steven Brault (3-3) allowed two runs, each scored in the first, in six innings. Five of Washington’s seven hits off Brault came in the first two innings.

“It was just the ebb and flow of the game, and that’s why I love starting so much,” Brault said. “That’s why I’ve always loved starting. You have to be able to make adjustments throughout the game.”

Scherzer is 7-0 in his past 11 starts. He said the next step would be to build toward throwing 100 pitches in a game.

“Hopefully I wake up tomorrow and I feel good,” Scherzer said. “If I do, it’s time to strengthen up. That will be a good sign, if I feel good tomorrow. … This is a good start, but I’m not out of the woods.”

Hunter Strickland (2-1) allowed one hit in two innings for the win.

Scherzer struggled in the third, using 25 pitches and allowing Adam Frazier’s seventh home run of the season on a fastball with one out. He stranded runners on first and second by striking out Colin Moran.

“We had one missed opportunity early,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “A couple innings where one more hit could’ve put some more pressure on (Scherzer). We’re not getting the big hit when we need it.”

Kendrick singled, doubled and hit his 14th homer, a two-run drive in the eighth that made it 4-1. Rendon hit his 28th home run in the ninth.

“Everybody’s contributing,” Nationals shortstop Trea Turner said. “It’s a hard lineup to get through and it’s been fun playing with those guys, and watching those guys.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: 2B Brian Dozier was reinstated from the paternity list. … RHP Kyle McGowin and INF Adrian Sanchez were optioned to Double-A Harrisburg.

Pirates: GM Neal Huntington announced Pittsburgh requested unconditional release waivers for C Francisco Cervelli, who has played 34 games while dealing with multiple concussions this season.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Anibal Sanchez (7-6, 3.99) is looking to avoid his first loss in more than more than three months when he takes the mound against the Cubs on Friday. He is 7-0 in 15 starts since allowing three runs in 4 1/3 innings of a 5-0 loss to the Dodgers on May 10.

Pirates: RHP Mitch Keller (1-2, 8.86) will try to get past the fifth inning for the first time against Cincinnati on Friday. The 23-year-old rookie has lasted five innings or fewer in each of his first five major league starts, including when he gave up six runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Cubs on Sunday.

WHITE SOX 6, RANGERS 1

CHICAGO (AP) — Yoan Moncada lined a two-run homer on his return from the injured list, Ross Detwiler struck out a career-high eight and the Chicago White Sox beat the Texas Rangers.

James McCann hit a solo shot and doubled, and Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson and Matt Skole each had an RBI as Chicago won for the third time in four games.

Out since July 31 with a strained right hamstring, Moncada batted cleanup and made an immediate impact with his 21st homer as the White Sox jumped to an early five-run lead. He also doubled in the fifth and gave his team a scare when he fell awkwardly exiting the batter’s box as he grounded out to end the seventh. He was tended to by a trainer and remained in the game.

Elvis Andrus’ solo homer accounted for the only run against Detwiler (2-3) and was one of only three hits off the left-hander, who walked none over six innings. The 33-year-old earned his second win this season — and only his second in the majors over nearly three years.

Jimmy Cordero followed with two scoreless relief innings, and Kelvin Herrera tossed the ninth to complete a three-hitter.

Ariel Jurado (6-10) allowed six runs and 10 hits in eight innings as he lost his fourth straight start.

RED SOX 5, ROYALS 4

BOSTON (AP) — Brock Holt hit an RBI single with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning as the Red Sox won a weather-suspended game that began Aug. 7.

The original contest was halted after a 1 hour, 49 minute-rain delay early on Aug. 8 with the score tied 4-4 and nobody out in the top of the 10th inning. Royals catcher Meibrys Viloria was facing a 2-1 count against Red Sox reliever Josh Taylor.

Play resumed 14 days, 14 hours and 18 minutes later. Ryan O’Hearn struck out and pinch hitter Bubba Starling grounded out to end the Royals’ inning. Starling took the spot of Billy Hamilton, who went 2 for 4 with a strikeout on Aug. 8 but was designated for assignment on Aug. 16.

Christian Vazquez doubled to center field after Andrew Benintendi struck out looking to lead off Boston’s 10th. Richard Lovelady (0-3) intentionally walked pinch hitter Sam Travis before Holt singled on a line drive to left field to score Chris Owings, who was pinch running for Vazquez.

The official time of game was 3:48, with only 12 minutes being played Thursday.

CUBS 1, GIANTS 0

CHICAGO (AP) — Kyle Hendricks pitched seven sharp innings as the Cubs won their fifth straight despite getting only two hits.

Anthony Rizzo hit an RBI single to help the NL Central leaders complete a three-game sweep. The Giants lost their fourth in a row.

A day after the Cubs won 12-11 in a game with seven home runs, there was a brisk breeze blowing in at Wrigley Field and the teams combined for just six hits.

Hendricks (9-9) allowed three hits, struck out seven and walked none. Relievers Brandon Kintzler, Kyle Ryan and Rowan Wick each got two outs to complete the four-hitter. Wick finished for his second save as Cubs pitchers combined for 10 strikeouts without a walk.

Jeff Samardzija (9-10) gave up one run on two hits in seven innings against his former team.

San Francisco’s best scoring chance came in the eighth. Crawford tripled off the right field wall with two outs against Kintzler. Ryan, a left-hander, then came on to strike out pinch-hitter Austin Slater to end the inning.

CARDINALS 6, ROCKIES 5

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Marcell Ozuna, Paul DeJong and Dexter Fowler each hit two-run homers to pace the Cardinals.

Fowler’s 15th home run of the season, off of a 97 mph fastball from Yency Almonte (0-1) in the seventh, capped the comeback. Matt Carpenter set it up by working a walk in an eight-pitch, pinch hitting appearance to lead off the frame.

Dominic Leone (1-0), who was recalled from Triple-A Memphis before the game, got the win. Giovanny Gallegos and Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless eighth and Carlos Martinez picked up his 15th save in 18 opportunities.

Ozuna’s blast into the upper deck in left field in the fourth came after Paul Goldschmidt singled to tie the game 2-2. Ozuna has hit safely in 13 of his last 16 games.

DeJong drilled a German Marquez curve 423 feet into the left-center bleachers in the sixth to cut it to 5-4. DeJong’s two-run homer extended his RBI streak to four games, one shy of his career high.

Marquez allowed four runs in six innings, on six hits, a pair of walks and four strikeouts.

BRAVES 3, MARLINS 2

ATLANTA (AP) — Ronald Acuna Jr. hit an RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning as the Atlanta Braves won their fifth straight.

Freddie Freeman hit a tying homer in the eighth and the Braves sent Miami to its 12th road loss in a row, the longest streak in the majors this year.

The NL East-leading Braves went 15-4 against the Marlins this year.

Adeiny Hechavarria opened the Atlanta ninth with a double and later scored on Acuna’s single off Ryne Stanek (0-3).

Freeman’s 34th homer, an opposite-field drive to left, came off Stanek, who lost his first decision since being acquired from Tampa Bay.

Mark Melancon (5-2) faced four batters in the ninth to earn the win.

Braves starter Mike Soroka hasn’t won a decision in seven straight starts. Soroka, tied for the second-best ERA in the majors at 2.41, allowed no walks and struck out five in seven innings.

Marlins starter Sandy Alcantara gave up Hechavarria’s RBI single in the second and allowed three hits in seven innings. He held the top four batters in Atlanta’s lineup — Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies, Freeman and Josh Donaldson — to a collective 0 for 12.

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