WASHINGTON — Max Scherzer pitched a complete game and the Washington Nationals took advantage of the sloppy Chicago Cubs in a 10-3 victory in the opener of a doubleheader Sunday.
Scherzer, bidding for a third straight NL Cy Young Award, allowed nine hits. He struck out 11 without a walk and hit a batter while improving to 17-6.
Scherzer also had an RBI single, raising his average to .270 this season. It was one of just six hits by Washington, which capitalized on nine walks and three errors from the Cubs. The Nationals scored five runs in the sixth inning on just two hits thanks for two errors and a wild pitch that resulted in a run.
Washington manager Dave Martinez visited Scherzer on the mound after the Cubs scored twice in the ninth, but left Scherzer in to get the final two outs.
The right-hander retired 15 in a row after Tommy La Stella’s first-inning double. He lost his shutout in the seventh.
It was Scherzer’s second complete game of the season and 10th of his career.
After Friday night’s game was rained out, the start of Saturday’s first game was delayed two hours and 10 minutes by rain.
Juan Soto and Trea Turner drove in two runs each for Washington.
Victor Caratini had two hits for Chicago.
Top prospect Victor Robles, rookie-of-the-year candidate Soto and Bryce Harper started together in the Washington outfield for the first time.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon opted to counter Scherzer with a bullpen game, and the Nationals jumped in front early. Jaime Garcia (3-7), in his Cubs debut, walked the bases loaded with one out in the first inning and Soto sent a hard grounder past first baseman Anthony Rizzo that was ruled a two-run single. That was all for Garcia, and Washington’s Matt Wieters provided a third run with an RBI single off former Nationals reliever Brandon Kintzler.
Maddon wasn’t thrilled with the handling of Friday’s rain.
“Played when we shouldn’t have, and then did not play when we should have,” he said.
After an 81-minute delay, the teams played into the top of the second inning before the lightning and rain returned. Then after a nearly 3-hour delay — with the rain stopped — the game was finally called, necessitating Saturday’s doubleheader.
Cubs: RF Ben Zobrist returned after being out of Friday’s lineup due to neck stiffness.
Chicago LHP Cole Hamels will face Washington RHP Jefry Rodriguez in the nightcap, and then Cubs LHP Mike Montgomery opposes Nationals RHP Erick Fedde in Sunday’s series finale.
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