MIAMI -- When Max Scherzer is on his game, the Nationals are in capable hands. The ace once again was sharp, striking out eight over eight innings in an 8-2 win over Miami on Sunday afternoon at Marlins Park.
Ben Revere had a breakout game with three hits, two RBIs, two stolen bases and two runs scored, setting the table for the Nationals to take two of three at Miami and claim a 7-6 season-series edge.
"I'm sure his confidence is a lot higher now than it was before because he was wondering what he had to do to get hits," said Nationals manager Dusty Baker. "But like I was telling everybody, he just had to play and get his timing and get his confidence back."
The only runs the Marlins manufactured off Scherzer came on Justin Bour's two-out, two-run homer on a full-count changeup in the seventh inning.
"He's pretty much always effective," Bour said of Scherzer. "This guy is going to come at you with his fastball. He's had a lot of success, and you've got to be ready. I'm just trying to trust my at-bat and my approach. I'm not trying to do too much. Those last two homers, I'm not trying to hit home runs. I'm trying to make solid contact and battle."
Marlins lefty Adam Conley was tagged for a career-high six runs in 5 1/3 innings, and he walked seven -- three intentionally -- another personal most. The southpaw, facing the Nationals for the third time this year, has now given up 13 runs in 13 innings (9.00 ERA) in those games.
"It just seems I haven't been as sharp against them, for whatever reason," said Conley, who has a 2.34 ERA in his six starts against other clubs. "They've got a good lineup, but at the same time, I look at their hitters and I think I can pitch to my strength against those guys and get them out."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Revere heating up: The Nationals spent the first month of the season without Revere, as a right oblique injury forced him to the disabled list. Then Revere spent the last few weeks trying to regain his form. But Sunday afternoon he offered a glimpse of why the Nationals traded for Revere this offseason. The outfielder went 7-for-14 in this series against the Marlins.
"The last day in New York I had a couple good swings, and that's when I kind of got the confidence boosted back up," Revere said. "I'm just trying to do everything I can do to help this team win." More >
Stanton's streak snapped: Mercifully for Giancarlo Stanton, his hitless streak came to an end in the fifth inning with a sharp single to center. Stanton had not had a hit since his sixth-inning home run at Washington last Sunday. Stanton was 0-for-19 with 16 strikeouts, including going down swinging in the second inning. With the count full, Stanton's single had an exit velocity of 111 mph, according to Statcast™. All 16 strikeouts were swinging. The breakdown went eight K's by slider, three fastball, two curveballs, two changeups and one split-finger fastball. A change Stanton made during this slump was shedding the face guard he had worn against right-handed pitchers against Scherzer. But in the ninth inning, matched against Blake Treinen, the guard was back.
"For me, you're seeing the guy is seeing the ball better," manager Don Mattingly said of Stanton. "That's what I was talking about last night. He had three strikeouts last night, but I'm seeing a guy with more takes. Usually, once that starts happening, when he starts to see the ball, he's going to hit."
Stellar Scherzer: The Nats' ace got off to a bit of a slow start this season, but Scherzer delivered another dominant effort on Sunday afternoon. Over his last three starts, he has thrown 23 innings with 38 strikeouts and four walks. His only misstep was on the homer to Bour, which has been the only way he's allowed runs lately. Each of the last six runs he has allowed have been via the home run.
"I'm just kind of getting in midseason form," Scherzer said. "That's what you're always striving for. You'd love to have it when you get out of spring, but sometimes it takes a few starts. I've made some mistakes over the course of this year so far, but every start I just keep getting a little bit sharper." More >
Hit 'em where they ain't, Ichiro: Willie Keeler has been replaced on MLB's all-time hit list. Ichiro had two singles off Scherzer, and he now has 2,956 hits. The hits for Ichiro were Nos. 2,955 and 2,956 of his career, which passes Keeler for 32nd all time. Keeler, who played from 1892-1910, made famous the line: "Keep your eye on the ball and hit 'em where they ain't." Next on the hit list is Sam Crawford, who had 2,964 hits. Ichiro was primed to move ahead of Keeler in the fourth inning, but his infield single was overturned by replay. He gained sole possession of 32nd place with his single to right in the sixth.
"We've seen [Scherzer] early, and we've seen him today. Obviously, he was a lot better than what we saw from him earlier in the year." -- Mattingly, noting Miami's 5-1 win over the Nationals right-hander on April 21
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Nationals issued their challenge on what appeared to be an infield single by Ichiro to begin the fourth inning. After review the call was overturned, snapping Ichrio's streak at five consecutive at-bats with a base hit.
The Marlins challenged a safe at home call in the ninth inning, and got the play overturned. Michael Taylor, running for Jayson Werth, raced home on Ryan Zimmerman's grounder to shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria with the infield in. Hechavarria's one-hop throw to the plate was handled by J.T. Realmuto. Taylor made a swipe tag and was called safe. But after a review of two minutes, the call was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals: Washington returns home to Nationals Park to begin a three-game series with the Mets on Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez will take the mound, trying to beat New York in consecutive starts after spinning 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball on Wednesday. Right-hander Bartolo Colon will start for the Mets.
Marlins: The Marlins open a two-game home set with the Rays on Monday at 7:10 ET at Marlins Park. Lefty Wei-Yin Chen (3-2, 4.22 ERA) goes for Miami. Tampa Bay counters with lefty Matt Moore (1-3, 5.09 ERA). This will be Chen's 20th start against the Rays, his most against any club.