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Nationals try to salvage split with Rockies
Sunday, April 15, 2018
Latest Line: Colorado +175 O/U: 7
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WASHINGTON -- After scuffling through the first two games, the Washington Nationals can salvage a split of their four-game series against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.

Max Scherzer turned in another dominating effort Saturday and the Nationals' offense came alive as they snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-2 victory.

Scherzer, coming off a two-hit shutout of Atlanta, allowed a first-inning walk and a homer to Charlie Blackmon but then retired the next 20 batters before leaving after seven innings. He finished with 11 strikeouts, making this his third double-digit strikeout game of the year.

After scoring five runs in three days, the Nationals (7-8) got a fourth-inning homer from Matt Wieters and scored four runs in the sixth, one coming on a safety squeeze by Michael A. Taylor that scored Bryce Harper.

"I think we know the kind of offense we have," Taylor told regarding the teams' slump. "Times like that are going to happen in a season, so we just keep pushing and keep grinding at bats and things like this will happen."

Right-hander Stephen Strasburg (2-1, 2.21 ERA) opposes left-hander Tyler Anderson (0-0, 5.65) on Sunday.

Strasburg allowed three hits in eight shutout innings Tuesday against Atlanta and has 21 strikeouts to go against just five walks this season.

He is 4-4 with a 3.97 ERA in eight career starts against the Rockies, but 3-1, 1.63 in four turns against them at Nationals Park.

Strasburg did not face the Rockies last season but in his last start against them Aug. 17, 2016 when he was tagged for nine runs and nine hits in 1 2/3 innings in a 12-10 loss at Coors Field. His last home start against Colorado was a 12-strikeout performance in seven innings Aug. 8, 2015.

Blackmon is 5-for-11 with three doubles in his career versus Strasburg, DJ LeMahieu is 5-for-16 and Gerardo Parra is 5-for-15.

Anderson has pitched well enough to win his last two starts. Last time out, he was charged with two runs on seven hits while striking out eight in six innings against the Padres on Tuesday.

He picked up a no-decision in his only previous start against Washington, allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings on April 24 at home.

The Rockies (8-8) saw their three-game snapped on the day Blackmon returned after missing four games with right quad tightness.

Jon Gray (1-3) allowed five runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out six.

"I can't stress enough how frustrating is to be out there cruising and let it all go to waste," Gray told the Denver Post.

Colorado slugger Nolan Arenado didn't play and won't for several more days. He dropped his appeal of a five-game suspension for charging the mound Wednesday against San Diego and began serving the penalty.

"We're without one of our best players, but we're going to have to absorb it, just like all other teams do that are without some of their stars," manager Bud Black said. "We're going to have to pitch well, which we have in this series, and we're going to have to get some hits from the guys who are in the lineup, whoever they may be."

Washington was without third basemen Anthony Rendon, who fouled a ball off his left big toe in Friday night's game.

"He's sore, real sore," manager Dave Martinez told reporters before the game. "He's probably going to be day-to-day. The x-rays are negative so that's a good sign.''

Outfielder Brian Goodwin was a late scratch and his replacement, Moises Sierra, drove in two runs for Washington in his first big league start since 2014.