Max Scherzer made yet another run at history on the mound, but a quick flurry of events in the top of the seventh combined with a lack of run support from his teammates left the right-hander and the Nationals to stew over a 3-1 loss to the Indians on a night that appeared to be headed for a much happier conclusion.
Scherzer held Cleveland hitless into the seventh in his latest attempt at a third career no-hitter before things fell apart. Francisco Lindor's one-out single up the middle broke up the no-no, then an error by Scherzer and two more hits ended the shutout and left the Nationals trailing by two runs.
That proved too big a deficit to overcome for this lineup, which has been held to three total runs over its last three games.
Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer was responsible for holding the Nationals in check this time, tossing 6 1/3 scoreless innings before handing it over to his bullpen. Prized trade deadline acquisition Andrew Miller surrendered a solo homer to Jayson Werth in the eighth, but Travis Shaw and Cody Allen finished it off to seal a particularly hard-luck loss for Scherzer.
The veteran ace had a familiar look of dominance early on. He retired the side in the top of the first on just 10 pitches. He retired the side again in the second, again in the third and again in the fourth, this time striking out the side. At this point, the Indians had hit only one ball out of the infield.
Scherzer's shot at perfection came to an end with two outs in the fifth, when Tyler Naquin drew a walk during an at-bat that included a couple of borderline calls from plate umpire Jerry Meals. Then, a familiar face made another extraordinary play in center field to (at least temporarily) save the game.
Ben Revere, whose over-the-shoulder catch played a major role in Sunday's 1-0 win over the Giants, robbed Roberto Perez of extra bases with a leaping grab in front of the Red Porch in left-center, drawing a huge roar from the crowd and an animated reaction from his pitcher.
This was the eighth time Scherzer has carried a no-hitter into at least the sixth inning in his 57 starts with the Nationals over the last two seasons, a remarkable rate of 14 percent. He, of course, completed the act twice last year.
This time, he made it to the seventh before things fell apart. Lindor sent a sharp single up the middle with one out to get things started for Cleveland, then advanced all the way to third when Scherzer's pickoff attempt scooted well down the first base line. Jose Ramirez followed with a double off the wall in right-center. Lonnie Chisenhall then blooped a single to left, turning a scoreless game into a 2-0 deficit.
The Nationals managed little at the plate against Bauer, who scattered four hits and two walks over his 6 1/3 innings. Werth did deliver against prized trade-deadline acquisition Miller, lining a homer to left in the bottom of the eighth. But left-hander Sammy Solis surrendered an insurance run in the top of the ninth, and the Nats couldn't mount a rally in the bottom of the inning.