Scherzer still recovering from bruised calf (Nats win 7-2)

MIAMI - Max Scherzer isn't concerned about his left calf in the grand scheme of things, but at this point it's uncertain whether the Nationals ace will be able to make his next start on schedule or need to wait a few more days to return to the mound.

Scherzer, who took a line drive off his lower left leg Saturday night in Milwaukee, was still walking with a slight limp this afternoon at Marlins Park. He took the field, with glove in hand, along with his teammates for batting practice but wasn't ready to pronounce himself good to go when his turn in the rotation next comes up this weekend against the Phillies.

Scherzer-Dejected-Gray-Injured-Sidebar.jpgThe Nationals are taking a wait-and-see approach, not wanting to commit either way yet, even though they all concur the bruise isn't a significant injury in the long-term.

"He's not concerned about it," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "The training staff's not concerned about it. I'm not that concerned about it. But he's not going to get back on the mound 'til he's feeling 100 percent."

With A.J. Cole starting tonight's series opener against the Marlins, the Nationals are going with a six-man rotation for the moment. That could buy them some time with Scherzer.

Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez are slated to pitch the final two games of this series, with Tanner Roark lined up for Thursday's series opener at home against the Phillies. Scherzer's turn comes after that, but the Nationals could send Edwin Jackson and Cole back to the mound on regular rest first to give Scherzer more time.

Update: Cole has labored through his first three innings tonight but has emerged allowing only one unearned run. That came about during a bottom of the first that included errors by both Matt Wieters and Daniel Murphy, plus one hit, two walks, a stolen base and 32 pitches. But Cole has minimized the damage, and he has received some run support from his teammates.

Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon got the Nationals on the board in the top of the second with a double and two-run homer, respectively. Murphy then launched his first homer since Aug. 13, a solo shot to right, in the top of the third, extending the Nats' lead to 3-1.

Update II: You can't stop Giancarlo Stanton, you can only hope to contain him. Cole had managed to do that in his first two trips to the plate tonight: a walk and a strikeout on a slider down and away. He couldn't do it a third time. Stanton connected on a 2-2 high fastball and drove it the other way, sneaking it over the fence down the right field line to trim the Nats' lead to 3-2 after five innings.

Update III: There's that offensive explosion the Nationals were searching for all weekend in Milwaukee. They just put up a four-spot in the top of the seventh, getting a two-run double from Murphy (now 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI) and a two-run double from Rendon (now 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBI). After scoring eight runs the last four days, the Nats have scored seven runs in seven innings tonight and lead 7-2 at the stretch.

Update IV: That'll do it. Nats win 7-2 behind big games from Murphy and Rendon, an effective start from Cole and then lights-out relief from Matt Albers, Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. They now lead the National League East by 16 games with 25 to go, reducing their magic number to 10.

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