MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Scherzer collects 2 hits, settles down in win over Braves

Scherzer collects 2 hits, settles down in win over Braves

ATLANTA -- It looked like the Nationals were in for a long night on Saturday at Turner Field. Right-hander Max Scherzer was having early problems, while Braves rookie Tyrell Jenkins was having his way with Washington.

By the fourth inning, however, Jenkins lost it by surrendering eight runs in the frame en route to the Nationals' 11-9 win. Washington, which is undefeated in Atlanta this season, improved to 11-1 against the Braves in 2016 and won its third straight, while the Braves have dropped seven in a row.

Jenkins got only one out in the fourth before right-hander Ryan Weber replaced him. Weber ended up doing a serviceable job on the mound, pitching 3 2/3 innings and allowing one run on eight hits to keep Atlanta in it.

The Braves made the game interesting by scoring six late runs, cutting the deficit to two in the ninth on Chase d'Arnaud's two-run single. Anthony Recker popped out to first for the final out as the potential tying run.

Melancon nails down the win

"We've been doing this a lot," Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. "We come up just short, and we put up some great at-bats from the first inning all the way to the ninth inning. That's a positive we're taking out of it is scoring nine runs and scoring a lot of runs yesterday. Just keep scoring a lot of runs, and we'll start winning some games."

Manager Dusty Baker admitted the ending was scary, but he gave the Braves credit for not giving up.

"They don't quit," Baker said. "They keep fighting and fighting. Boy, I'm just glad we won the game. [The Braves] have a lot of spirit over there."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Record-breaking inning: In the fourth, the Nationals collected a club-record nine hits, including eight in a row, and scored a season-high eight runs -- all off Jenkins. Trea Turner had the biggest knock, a three-run homer. Even Scherzer was able to get in on the act with an RBI single.

"I don't think I've ever seen eight hits in a row maybe since the days when the Pirates were known as 'The Lumber Company,'" Baker said. "I'm just glad we were doing some hitting."

Added Scherzer: "Dusty had the confidence in me to go ahead and slash [at the plate]. As soon as I got the sign, I said, 'Heck, yeah, let's go. Let's get a knock.' Sure enough, I got a fastball away and was able to do something with it. I just helped keep that line moving as the hitters always say." More >

Nationals' eight-run 4th inning

Growing pains: After surrendering seven runs against the Nationals last Sunday, Jenkins held his own through the first three innings, allowing only a solo home run to Ryan Zimmerman. Washington then batted around against the rookie right-hander, who threw 31 pitches in the frame. Jenkins has been unable to pitch through the fifth inning in four of his eight starts this year. After the game, the Braves optioned Jenkins to Triple-A Gwinnett to work on his recent struggles.

"You've got to make pitches," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "This is a really good team, and they just added a couple of pieces back. You can't make mistakes. You've got to hit [your] location, your movement and just all of the pitching things in order to keep games in check and give your team a chance." More >

Scherzer gets act together: After giving up three runs in the second inning, Scherzer allowed just two hits over the next 4 1/3 frames -- a two-out single in the fifth to Matt Kemp and a one-out double to Ender Inciarte in the seventh that ended Scherzer's night. In the top half of the seventh, Scherzer added his second single and RBI of the game.

"I wanted to attack the zone better [after the second inning]," Scherzer said. "Once we got the eight runs, the big lead, that's shutdown time. You want to go out there and throw shutdown innings, to keep momentum on your side, and that's when you usually win ballgames."

Providing a spark: Inciarte helped the Braves seize a 3-1 lead in the second inning with a two-out ground-rule double, setting the stage for Adonis Garcia's two-run double in the ensuing at-bat. The center fielder crossed the plate once again in the seventh inning, when he doubled to right and later scored from third on reliever Blake Treinen's wild pitch to Freeman. Since July 8, Inciarte has batted .336 (50-for-149) with eight of his 16 doubles and has scored 27 runs.

"We traded for him, and that's what we expected," Freeman said. "He's starting to do that every day now. It's huge for us. It gets everything going, and if he keeps doing that, we'll start winning some games."

Inciarte's RBI fielder's choice

QUOTABLE
"It's good to be back. I have a chance to be with the guys, be out there and try to somehow help the team win. They have been playing great. I didn't want to come back in and mess it up." -- Zimmerman, who went 3-for-4, including a solo homer, in his return from the disabled list More >

Zimmerman's solo homer to left

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Since returning to the Nats' lineup last Sunday, Bryce Harper is 10-for-25 (.400) with a homer, eight walks and eight RBIs.

WHAT'S NEXT
Nationals: A two-hour rain delay cut Gio Gonzalez's last start short to just three innings against the Rockies. He enters Sunday's outing in Atlanta searching for the 100th victory of his career. Game time is 1:35 p.m. ET.

Braves: On Sunday, Atlanta will counter with Joel De La Cruz, who is still searching for his first Major League win. The right-hander has lowered his ERA from 4.66 to 3.72 since rejoining the Braves' rotation on July 31, but the team has only averaged 1.53 runs per game in his starts this season.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.

Pat James is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta and covered the Braves on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.