Scherzer sharp early vs. depleted Mets (Nationals win 4-2)

Max Scherzer has dominated a depleted Mets lineup before. He won't be duplicating his end-of-season no-hitter tonight, but the Nationals ace is dealing and looking as sharp as he has in his previous historic starts.

Scherzer has tossed three scoreless innings so far, striking out six as he attempts to lead the Nats to a series sweep over New York.

Daniel Murphy's solo homer - his third against his former team already this season - gave the Nationals an early 1-0 lead, and Jayson Werth added a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third to extend the lead to 2-0 and give Scherzer some much-appreciated support.

scherzer-pitching-red-sidebar-front.jpgScherzer has been sharp from the outset, retiring the side in the top of the first on 14 pitches (11 strikes). His dreams of a perfect game were dashed only five batters in, when Asdrubal Cabrera singled with one out in the second, but Scherzer got right back to work and pitched his way out of a jam with back-to-back strikeouts to end that frame.

A 1-2-3 third inning that included two more strikeouts continued Scherzer's encouraging night but left his pitch count at 46.

The Nationals are attempting to sweep this series and beat the Mets for the sixth time in nine games so far this season. They entered tonight's game outscoring New York 40-21 head-to-head in 2016.

Update: It's still 2-0 Nats after five innings. Logan Verrett did a nice job pinch-pitching for the injured Steven Matz before handing it over to the Mets bullpen. But Scherzer has been the story so far. He has eight strikeouts and only one hit surrendered so far, cruising along. If not for Cabrera's second-inning single, we might be talking about a totally different story here tonight.

Update II: We are through the seventh, and nothing has changed. The score is still 2-0. The Mets still have one hit. Scherzer has retired 17 in a row and reached double digits in strikeouts for the seventh time this year, the 43rd time in his career. He's at 98 pitches and will take the mound for the eighth.

Update III: It's over. Nats win 4-2, thanks to Murphy's second homer of the night. They needed it, because James Loney hit a two-run homer off Shawn Kelley in the bottom of the ninth to make things interesting. They swept the series and now lead the NL East by 5 1/2 games, with the Mets now six games back.

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