WASHINGTON -- Right fielder Bryce Harper arguably had the best game of his young career on Wednesday afternoon, hitting three home runs and knocking in five runs as the Nationals defeated the Marlins, 7-5, at Nationals Park.
By the seventh inning, Washington had a comfortable 7-2, lead, thanks to an RBI groundout by Harper and an RBI single by Yunel Escobar. But the Marlins closed th gap in the eighth inning.
Scherzer, who struck out 10 over seven-plus innings and picked up his second victory, allowed a three-run homer to Giancarlo Stanton.
But Tanner Roark and Drew Storen blanked Miami the rest of the way, with Storen picking up his eighth save of the season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The Harper show: It was Harper's sixth multi-homer game of his career. The first homer came in the second inning, when he hit a 1-1 pitch from Koehler over the left-center wall to cut Miami's lead to 2-1.
An inning later, Harper hit a ball that landed into the second deck in right-center to give Washington a 4-2 lead. In the fifth inning, Harper hit another monster solo shot into the right-field upper deck.
"I was trying to get some good ABs," Harper said. "[Koehler] is a good pitcher. He has a curveball, slider and has a good changeup. We were trying to put some runs on the board for [Scherzer]."
In the seventh inning, Harper had a chance to hit a fourth home run, this time off Sam Dyson, but he grounded out to second base with runners on first and third, driving in Denard Span for a 7-2 lead.
"I was trying to get that run in. I wanted to get that fourth home run. It would be something. That would have been cool to get," Harper said. More >
Scherzer in the win column: Scherzer pitched seven-plus innings, allowed five runs on 10 hits and struck out 10. It was the first time Scherzer allowed more than three runs in a game this season.
"I really thought I made two mistakes," Scherzer said. "One to Ichiro in the second inning, when he was able to get a single. Obviously, the last one to Stanton. It was 3-2. I was trying to break that slider into the zone. Before I started, I just needed to finish it. I didn't finish it, and it hung right there, so he could hit it a country mile." More >
Pitchers don't like the long ball: Serving up home runs hasn't been a major issue for Koehler on the Major League level. It certainly was in the series finale against Harper. Those blasts jacked Koehler's home run count to seven in six starts. Last season, he allowed 16 in 32 starts. More >
Stanton strikes back: Stanton struggled for most of three-game series in Washington, which is rare considering his general dominance at Nationals Park. After starting the series 1-for-11, he clobbered a three-run blast off of Scherzer in the eighth inning, his 15th career home run at the D.C. ballpark, the most by any visiting player. Stanton last homered on April 29. He is still looking for his first multi-hit game in May.
"He's seeing the ball well by his number of walks this season, we know that. He got some pitches to hit today. … His patience is key. So if he could be patient enough, then he can work himself into counts, he can drive baseballs. That's an important part of his game." -- Nationals manager Matt Williams, on Harper More >
"I made three mistakes against him, and he hit the ball three times for homers." -- Koehler, on Harper
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• Three other Nationals players have hit three homers in one game: Alfonso Soriano (April 21, 2006, against Atlanta), Adam Dunn (July 8, 2010, against San Diego) and Ryan Zimmerman (May 29, 2013, at Baltimore)
• At 22 years, 202 days, Harper is the youngest player to hit three home runs in a game since Joe Lahoud (22 yrs, 53 days) on June 11, 1969.
WHAT'S NEXT Marlins: The Marlins head west for their next seven games, starting with a four-game set in San Francisco. Dan Haren (3-1, 2.70 ERA) battles fellow right-hander Tim Hudson (1-2, 3.78) on Thursday at 10:15 p.m. ET
Nationals: The Nationals have the day off on Thursday before beginning a three-game series against the Braves starting Friday at Nationals Park. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez will start the 7:05 p.m. ET game.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.