Nationals rally after Scherzer's early exit

Nationals rally after Scherzer's early exit

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers left-hander Josh Hader dominated the Nationals with electric stuff in the eighth inning of a one-run game Friday night. Twenty-four hours later, Washington returned the favor.

Michael A. Taylor smashed Hader's first pitch for a tying solo homer, and Trea Turner hit a go-ahead double later in the eighth to lift the Nationals to a 3-2 win over the Brewers on Saturday at Miller Park. Sean Doolittle endured a two-out scare in the ninth for his 14th National League save as Washington overcame Max Scherzer's early exit.

"I think any time you see people more and more, the advantage kind of goes your way a little bit more," Turner, who struck out in the eighth Friday, said of facing Hader a second day in a row. "Not to say you're going to get a hit off him the second time you face him as opposed to the first, but you just gather information. He made some good pitches last night, and tonight we got some pitches in the zone and hit them hard."

Turner's go-ahead double

Said Hader: "I felt good. My arm was ready. I just left pitches over the plate and they got hit."

The loss dropped the Brewers a season-worst 4 1/2 games behind the surging Cubs in the National League Central, and further shifted the focus to the chase for the NL's second Wild Card. The Brewers remained 1 1/2 games behind the Rockies in that race after Colorado lost to Arizona.

"What's great is we are matching that pitching-wise," said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. "That's how you have to win some of these games against these guys. Our pitching has been up to the task. That's what is kind of exciting to me is that you can win games like that."

Woodruff, Hader key to present, future

The day began as a duel between Nationals ace Scherzer and Brewers rookie Brandon Woodruff, neither of whom surrendered a hit through the first three innings. The Brewers began nine up, nine down without hitting a ball past Scherzer's infielders, but the right-hander was clearly compromised after a Travis Shaw comebacker appeared to strike his left calf in the first inning. Both teams scored a run on two hits in the fourth, and Scherzer was able to get through a scoreless fifth before finally exiting the game.

Scherzer recovers on deflection

"I knew I wasn't in danger of hurting my arm," Scherzer said. "It was just one of those things, I wanted to be out there to compete. I competed as long as I could."

Woodruff kept going, holding the Nationals to that lone run on those two fourth-inning singles over seven otherwise scoreless innings. He walked one batter and hit another, set a career high with eight strikeouts, and was in line for the win before the Nationals rallied in the eighth.

Woodruff's impressive outing

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Brewers' big hop: With Scherzer out of the game, the Brewers took a 2-1 lead in the sixth against Nationals reliever Oliver Perez thanks to a trio of good breaks -- all on the same play. Neil Walker worked a two-out walk before Stephen Vogt chopped a hit over leaping first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. That was lucky break No. 1. The others came courtesy of second baseman Daniel Murphy, who deflected the baseball into foul ground, and right fielder Jayson Werth, whose bobble allowed Walker to score the go-ahead run from third.

Rude welcome: Hader touched 97.9 mph while striking out a trio of Nats hitters the night before, but he did not have the same stuff Saturday while pitching for the third time in four days, and on back-to-back days for only the second time in his young Major League career because Brewers closer Corey Knebel was down for the day. Hader topped out at 93.8 mph, and his first pitch of the night was a 93.1-mph fastball right down the middle to Taylor. It left Taylor's bat at 105.7 mph, according to Statcast™, and found the bleachers beyond the left-field wall.

Taylor's game-tying homer

"It was down probably a little bit," Counsell said of Hader's velocity, "but I thought it was up last night. Look, Josh is going to be out there again and there's a good chance he's going to be out there back-to-back again, and he's going to do well. He has 30-some innings in and he's dominated hitters."

Just missed it: The Brewers nearly won it in the ninth. Hernan Perez's two-out single off Doolittle brought pinch-hitter Manny Pina to the plate for the first time since he injured his right hip in Tuesday's loss to the Cardinals. Pina fouled a pair of two-strike pitches straight back before connecting with a fastball for a fly ball to the deepest part of Miller Park. Taylor left his feet to make the game-ending catch on the warning track in center.

Doolittle shuts the door

"I hit it, man," Pina said. "I said, 'Yes. That ball has got to go.' ... When the roof is closed, the ball doesn't carry anywhere. When it is open, you hit the ball, you know it's a homer in any park. But I hit it well."

Doolittle did not turn around to watch the ball, instead focusing on Pina's reaction to see if he had gotten it all.

"I was like, 'How long is this ball going to stay in the air?'" Doolittle said with a laugh. "Because he was still holding his bat like almost to first base. That was a long like five or six seconds."

QUOTABLE
"He gutted it out for us tonight for five innings on one leg pretty much. Not only is he physically tough, but I think what separates him from some other guys is his mental toughness and still being able to execute pitches when he's not feeling 100 percent." -- Doolittle, on Scherzer pitching through his sore calf

Scherzer shaken up, remains in

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Brewers third baseman Travis Shaw wasn't aware the Crew had eight players who could bat left-handed on the roster until Counsell posted the lineup on Saturday afternoon, and there they were. Including Woodruff, who pitches right-handed but hits lefty, the Brewers had eight left-handed or switch-hitters in the starting lineup for the first time since Sept. 28, 2004. Counsell was one of the Brewers' lefties in the lineup that day against Arizona's Brandon Webb. It nearly worked, but then-Milwaukee closer Dan Kolb let a two-run lead slip away in the ninth and the Brewers lost in 11 innings.

WHAT'S NEXT
Nationals: Edwin Jackson takes the mound Sunday at 2:10 p.m. ET as the Nationals wrap up this four-game series at Miller Park. The veteran has become a reliable starter since taking over the team's fifth-starter spot, posting a 2.94 ERA in eight starts.

Brewers: Left-hander Brent Suter gets the start in Sunday's 1:10 p.m. CT series finale in what amounts to a bullpen day for the Brewers. Suter is fresh off a stint on the 10-day disabled list for a left rotator cuff strain, and he threw 35 pitches over three scoreless innings for Class A Wisconsin on Wednesday. September callup Junior Guerra (Milwaukee's Opening Day starter) is among the arms expected to back up Suter's start.

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Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

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