WASHINGTON -- Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond recently figured out what makes teammate Max Scherzer the competitor that he is.
Desmond realized that Scherzer wants to be more than just a great pitcher. Scherzer wants to be an all-around athlete. He wants to get better at the plate as well as having great instincts while running the bases.
"He wants to score runs and have a two-strike approach. He talked about when he swings and how he swings. That's good. That's stuff [pitchers] should take [seriously]," Desmond said.
Hitting and baserunning paid dividends for Scherzer on Friday night as the Nationals edged the Phillies, 2-1, at Nationals Park.
The score was deadlocked at 1 when Scherzer led off the sixth inning and singled to right field on a 1-2 pitch off right-hander Sean O'Sullivan. Two batters later, Desmond doubled to dead center field as Scherzer scored all the way from first base to give Washington a 2-1 lead.
"Desi put a great swing to the ball. He put that ball into the gap," Scherzer said. "I tried to run the bases the right way. [Third-base coach] Bobby [Henley] gave me the sign to go home. I did everything I could to score that run."
Scherzer was also phenomenal on the mound, going eight innings and allowing one run on four hits and striking out six. He said he was successful because of his curveball.
"Earlier in the game, I was able to flip it in and out of the zone when I needed to," Scherzer said. "When I'm able to do that, it's a big sign to me. I can pitch with a curveball when [opposing teams] have a lineup that's lefty-heavy."
Scherzer became the first Nationals pitcher since Livan Hernandez in 2005 to throw at least seven innings in seven consecutive starts. To Scherzer, it means he is giving his bullpen some rest.
"I just go out there and compete as long as I can," Scherzer said. "That's why I love being a starting pitcher. I love going out there and giving everything I got. When I go deep in the game, it helps a ballclub even more. That's something I take pride in."