Scherzer vs. Stanton takes center stage (Nats win 11-2)

The Nationals' Max Scherzer returns tonight just in time for an epic matchup against Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, who has become the first batter to reach 50 homers in a season since 2013.

Manager Dusty Baker smiled when asked during pregame about his strategy in facing Stanton: "Can't tell you that. Cuz somebody in here may be a double agent."

"You can't stop him hitting home runs," Baker said. "You just hope they're solos and it's not when it really hurts you. It's awesome. I try not to look at it every night. I urge my players not to look at it every night cuz then they end up getting nervous. I don't know that there is a plan for him.

"He's not hitting .400, but he is hitting a whole bunch of home runs. But he is making some outs. You want to stop the people getting on in front of him, which is difficult sometimes with Dee Gordon. And Dee runs. I mean, they got a good lineup. And if you walk Stanton, then you got (Christian) Yelich, (Marcell) Ozuna. This could be one of the best offensive outfields in the league. They played us tough."

scherzer-pitching-follow-through-sidebar.jpgScherzer has had a penchant for allowing homers: 19 in 24 starts this season.

Stanton spoke pregame about his game plan against Scherzer: "With a guy like him, you gotta advance on the few mistakes that he makes, so we just know we gotta be prepared for that, but he's not invincible. So know that, too. Big moment, whatever, every at-bat's big.

"His release is very unique. His extension, the way the ball comes out is always on the same plane and hard to get -- depth perception on an angle. That's why he's so effective and why the slider comes off his heater so well."

Stanton has hit 32 homers against the Nats, second most in his career vs. any team (33 vs. the Mets). At Nats Park, Stanton has hit 19 in his career. "I like hitting here," Stanton said. "I think it plays fair. It's got a good backdrop. It's a good park."

Update: In their first matchup, Scherzer got Stanton to ground into a 5-4-3 double play thanks to an outstanding play by Anthony Rendon.

In the bottom of the first, José Ureña struck out the first two batters but then walked Daniel Murphy. Murphy stole second and went to third on a wild pitch. Ryan Zimmerman walked. Rendon laced a single to left to score Murphy.

After one inning, the Nats led the Marlins 1-0.

Update II: Howie Kendrick walked to begin the bottom of the third, followed by Michael A. Taylor's single. Murphy then flew out to deep center, allowing Kendrick to advance to third. Zimmerman brought him home with a groundout to shortstop.

After three innings, the Nats led the Marlins 2-0.

In the fourth, Stanton struck out. But Christian Yelich hit a home run over the left field wall. He connected on a 1-2 pitch for his 16th homer of the season.

Mid-fourth, the Nats led the Marlins 2-1.

Update III: In the fourth, Matt Wieters singled. Jayson Werth triumphantly returned to the lineup by sending a 3-2 Ureña pitch over the left field wall to give the Nats a 4-1 lead. Statcast estimated his ninth homer of the season at 425 feet.

After four innings, the Nats led the Marlins 4-1.

Update IV: The Nats put the game away in the sixth, sending 11 men to the plate, scoring six runs and pounding out seven hits. The highlights included a three-run triple by Kendrick, a two-run single by Wieters and an RBI base knock for Murphy.

Wieters has three hits and two RBIs. The Nats have now scored 10 or more runs in a game 20 times this season, the most in the majors.

After six innings, the Nats lead the Marlins 10-1.

Update V: Scherzer goes seven innings, allowing one run on five hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts. He threw 100 pitches, 69 for strikes.

Wilmer Difo tripled to lead off the seventh. Pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza grounded out to second to bring Difo home.

Stanton left in the seventh for Tyler Moore.

After seven innings, the Nats lead the Marlins 11-1.

Update VI: Ozuna recorded an RBI single in the eighth. Sammy Solís pitched a scoreless ninth.

Final score: Nats 11, Marlins 2.

The Nats' division lead over the Marlins is 13 games.

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