San Diego pitcher Andrew Cashner (1-7) scuffled early but settled down thereafter, allowing three earned runs (four total) on nine hits, with two walks and six strikeouts, over six innings.
Alexi Amarista singled home the Padres' lone run with two outs in the ninth inning against Nationals reliever Aaron Barrett to end San Diego's 21-inning scoreless streak.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Scherzer dominates: Scherzer won his fourth game by pitching seven shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out 11. It marks the 28th time in his career he has had at least 10 strikeouts in a game. Scherzer didn't allow his first hit until the fourth inning when Matt Kemp singled to left-center.
San Diego's best chances to score off Scherzer were in the fourth and seventh innings. With the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth, Will Middlebrooks popped up to second baseman Danny Espinosa to end the threat. Three innings later, the Padres had runners on first and third with one out, but Austin Hedges and Abraham Almonte struck out to end the threat.
"He has the ability to dial it up when he needs to," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "His pitches are 91 to 94 [mph]. He can reach back when he wants to. It was more of the same for Maxie. He was in control. He ran into a couple of tough spots and made pitches when he needed to." More >
Avoiding the no-no: After Scherzer retired the first 10 batters, Will Venable walked. Kemp then singled to left for the Padres' first hit. The Padres loaded the bases but couldn't score.
"Fastball, slider, changeup, a good three-pitch mix. And he threw some fastballs at the top of the zone that were effective," said Padres manager Bud Black of Scherzer. "Not just his stuff, but his kind of funky way he throws the ball. There's some deception."
Nats start off by scoring first: The Nationals took a 3-0 lead in the first inning off Cashner. Yunel Escobar and Wilson Ramos has RBI singles, while Ryan Zimmerman had an RBI groundout.
"The guys were ready to play, ready to get going early. Good at-bats early. We came up with some base hits when we needed to against the tough guy," Williams said. "[Cashner] throws the ball good. We were able to get some good at-bats early."
You never forget your first: Hedges, regarded as the top defensive catcher in the Minors, before his recent promotion to the Padres, threw out his first would-be basestealer in the second inning, tossing out Michael Taylor as he tried to swipe third base.
"He's too good of a pitcher to have what his record looks like now." -- Black, on Cashner, who fell to 1-7More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• When Cashner allowed three earned runs in the first inning Saturday, it snapped his streak of 21 consecutive home starts with two or fewer earned runs. It was the longest current streak in the Major Leagues.
"I just made a bunch of mistakes in the first. I didn't really execute. I've got to be better," Cashner said. "I felt I didn't get going in the first," Cashner said.
• Harper collected his team-leading 14th multi-hit game of the season. In 15 games this month, Harper is hitting .385 [20-for-52] with eight home runs and 18 RBIs.
BASES LOADED MISERY
The Padres have struggled this season with the bases loaded and Saturday was no different, as Scherzer loaded the bases in the fourth inning with two outs before getting Middlebrooks to pop up to end the inning. The Padres are hitting .143 (4-for-28) with the bases full this season.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals: It's home cooking for right-hander Stephen Strasburg on Sunday afternoon at 4:10 p.m. ET against the Padres. It will mark the second time in his professional career that he will pitch in the city in which he was raised. In his first start at Petco Park, which occurred May 16, 2013, Strasburg pitched eight innings, allowed two runs - one earned-and struck out four batters in a 6-2 victory. The Nationals are expected to be without outfielder Jayson Werth for a second straight game. More >
Padres: The series concludes at 1:10 p.m. PT on Sunday with Ian Kennedy (2-2, 5.92) getting the start. He'll try to avoid the slow start he had last week against the Mariners, when he allowed four first-inning runs in a loss.