Bill Ladson

Dodgers force Scherzer to grind through start

Nationals' ace allows just one run, but exits after six innings

Dodgers force Scherzer to grind through start

WASHINGTON -- Right-hander Max Scherzer found himself in a battle during the Nationals' 5-0 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park.

While he gave up only a run in the first four innings, Scherzer threw 68 pitches. He was out of the game two innings later and threw a total of 98 pitches.

"They just grinded," Scherzer said of the Dodgers. "They're a great team. They do a lot of great things. They're a tough, tough lineup to face because they can hit every pitch you throw. There was a couple times where I executed some pitches down in the zone and they were still able to get the bat to the ball and get it to the outfield."

Scherzer had to be perfect on this day because Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke was even better, throwing eight shutout innings to pick up his ninth victory.

"Giving up only one run is good, but good is not good enough when you're going up against Greinke and what he's doing right now," Scherzer said. "He just completely shut us down. He was throwing the ball outstanding and I wasn't able to match him."

A wild pitch by Scherzer proved to be the difference in the game. With two outs, Andre Ethier on third and Alberto Callaspo at the plate in the fourth inning, Scherzer's pitch got by catcher Wilson Ramos. It looked like Ramos had a chance to throw out Ethier at the plate, but his throw went wide of Scherzer.

Ethier scores on wild pitch

"It was just a cutter that broke too far in," Scherzer said. "Just one of those things. I yanked it. I missed with it and that ended up costing me a crucial run at that point in the game. It just something that I'm trying to execute that pitch in and I yanked it in. Sometimes you gotta look at the positives even when you have failures.

"That's not a pitch I left out over the plate that got hammered. I executed, just pulled it and yanked it too much. That's on me and I gotta pitch better than that, but I'm not gonna beat myself up over that pitch."

In Scherzer's eight losses, the Nationals have scored seven runs. They have been shut out three times when Scherzer is on the mound. Clint Robinson said Scherzer understands how tough this game is when it comes to scoring runs.

"[Scherzer] has a lot of respect for us as hitters and a lot of respect for other offenses," Robinson said. "He knows that you're going to go through ups and downs. Most of the time when Max is out there he's matching up with their best. He's just gotta go out there and do his job and we've gotta do our job and help him out. We haven't done that in the games he's lost and we gotta get better at that."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.