By Christina De Nicola and Steve Wilaj
MIAMI -- Right-hander Max Scherzer tossed eight scoreless innings as the Nationals snapped a five-game losing skid in a 5-0 victory over the Marlins on Sunday afternoon at Marlins Park.
Washington grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third when lefty Brad Hand (4-6) walked three batters, including Ian Desmond, with the bases loaded and two outs. The Nationals chased him in the fourth by adding two runs on a pair of RBI singles by Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth.
Matt den Dekker, who took over in left in the first after Bryce Harper exited for precautionary reasons, blasted a solo homer -- his third of the season -- off righty Jose Urena to extend the lead to 4-0 in the sixth.
The Nationals remain 9 1/2 games back of the Mets in the National League East with 20 contests to go, while the Marlins were officially eliminated from postseason contention.
"Let's just do it," said Scherzer, who struck out six batters and walked none. "I give a rat. We just got to play great baseball. We can't control anything. All we can control is ourselves. Let's go out there and compete and do what we need to do to win ballgames, and that's what we did today."
"You know you're in for a battle when you face [Scherzer]," Marlins manager Dan Jennings said. "He leads the league in a lot of categories for a reason. We ran into a buzzsaw, but it was a good homestand to win three series and go 6-3. I'm very proud of the way these guys have played over these last three or four weeks."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Harper leaves following collision: On Werth's first-inning grounder to short, Harper collided at full speed with second baseman Derek Dietrich while rounding second. He walked off on his own power after head athletic trainer Lee Kuntz checked on him for several minutes on the field. He has passed concussion tests since experiencing dizziness.
"Not a good feeling out there to see what's wrong," manager Matt Williams said. "Luckily, everything else is fine and he feel good right now, which is a good sign." More >
Max gets back on track: Scherzer (12-11) picked up his first win since July 30, which came against the Marlins in South Florida, to end a stretch of seven straight outings without a victory. Since Aug. 4, he had posted a 6.08 ERA in those seven starts. More >
Hand's struggles continue: Lasting just 3 1/3 innings against the Nats, Hand recorded his third straight short outing while also picking up his third consecutive loss. The lefty entered coming off outings of 4 2/3 innings and 1 2/3 innings, and it was much of the same as the Nats tagged him for three earned runs on five hits. Hand didn't help himself either, walking four batters before being pulled after 67 pitches.
"I felt good for the first one or two innings, and then after that I kind of lost the feel for everything," Hand said. "I fell behind in counts and walked too many guys."
Urena steps in: The first man out of the Marlins bullpen, Urena logged 2 2/3 innings of one-run ball to keep Miami within striking distance. It was the rookie righty's third appearance since rejoining the team from a disabled list stint, and over those outings, he has allowed just one earned run in six combined innings. More >
"Certainly when we put it together in the beginning of Spring Training and the year, we felt like this team -- with good health -- that we had a chance to contend. As we talked about many times, it's been a trying year for various reasons. … We didn't envision it this way when we were putting this ballclub together back in November-December." -- Jennings, on the Marlins being officially eliminated from playoff contention with the loss
"We've got to win every game. You put yourself in this position. Good to get a win, but we've pretty much got to win the rest of them." -- Werth, on the Nats' playoff chances
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals: Washington continues its road trip at 7:05 p.m. ET on Monday for a three-game series against the Phillies. Righty Jordan Zimmermann (12-8, 3.32 ERA) has given up just one earned run in each of his last three starts and has a four-game win streak.
Marlins: Miami travels to New York to open up a three-game set with the Mets beginning on Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Citi Field. Justin Nicolino (3-3, 3.72 ERA) gets the start for the Marlins, who took two of three from New York earlier this month.