WASHINGTON (AP) — On another eventful afternoon at Nationals Park, Washington right-hander Max Scherzer came within five outs of his second no-hitter of the season, shutting down the Cincinnati Reds into the eighth inning while striking out 10 batters in a 5-1 victory Monday, hours after closer Jonathan Papelbon was suspended for fighting with Bryce Harper a day earlier.
Scherzer did not allow a hit until Tucker Barnhart singled to left field on a 1-2 count with one out in the eighth. That came on Scherzer’s 105th pitch, and fans at the stadium rose to salute the right-hander with a standing ovation. To that point, the Reds only had three baserunners, on walks in the first, third and seventh innings.
Barnhart wound up scoring on Skip Schumaker’s single, the only other hit allowed by Scherzer (13-12), who left after the eighth.
In the bottom of the eighth, chants of “We want Bryce!” rang out in the stadium. Harper, a leading NL MVP contender, was not in the lineup.
Before the eighth inning, Schumaker came closest to getting a hit off Scherzer — and he did so twice. In the third inning, left fielder Tyler Moore laid out for a diving catch, and in the sixth, second baseman Dan Uggla dropped to a knee to grab a liner.
Exactly a year ago to the day, on Sept. 28, 2014, Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann no-hit the Miami Marlins on the last day of the regular season, getting the last out on a spectacular catch by left fielder Steven Souza Jr., who is no longer with the Nationals.
Scherzer, the 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner for Detroit, signed a $210 million contract with Washington this offseason. He already threw a no-hitter at Nationals Park in 2015, on June 20 against Pittsburgh, when he was one strike from a perfect game before plunking a batter with two outs in the ninth inning.
Scherzer’s pitch count was low Monday — 79 through six innings — so he had no trouble dialing up his fastball whenever he wanted to, regularly topping 95 mph and occasionally reaching 99 mph.
Three of Washington’s runs came off Reds starter Brandon Finnegan (4-2), who threw five innings.
Reds: Open a three-game series at home against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. The Cubs have clinched an NL wild card.
Nationals: Open a three-game series at Atlanta on Tuesday. Both NL East clubs have been eliminated from playoff contention.