Scherzer tagged by Pillar; Nationals-Blue Jays split DH
WASHINGTON (AP) — One common theme emerged from the Nationals and Blue Jays clubhouses following the second game of their day-night doubleheader: Surprise.
Not that Toronto fought back in the second game to avoid a sweep, but that Kevin Pillar’s two home runs off Max Scherzer fueled the victory.
Pillar connected twice off Scherzer, including a go-ahead three-run homer, as the Blue Jays beat the Nationals 7-3 Tuesday night.
Jordan Zimmermann pitched six-hit ball for eight innings in the opener, a 2-0 victory that ended a three-game losing streak.
Scherzer (6-4) had won each of his previous five starts. He allowed two earned runs and struck out 46 batters in that stretch. The right-handers season-long stats included only three home runs surrendered before Tuesday.
He appeared poised for another win with a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning.
Pillar had other ideas, though. With two outs, he drove a pitch over the wall in left for his second home run and fourth on the season.
“The guy has just been unbelievable for us,” first baseman Tyler Moore said of Scherzer. “If he gives up a hit you’re like how’d he do that. ... It was definitely a surprise for Pillar to get those two homers off him.”
“I’ve never hit two home runs at any level,” he said with a smile. “Never in Little League, college, high school, any level. That’s the first time I hit two home runs in any game and to do it off a guy like Max Scherzer is definitely a real special day for me.”
Scherzer likely feels otherwise.
“You want to close the door in that situation with two outs,” Scherzer stated after allowing four runs and six hits.
Marco Estrada (2-3) pitched six innings in the second game for Toronto, allowing three runs — two earned — and six hits.
Zimmermann (5-2) struck out four and walked one to win for the third time in four starts.
Bryce Harper had a go-ahead single off R.A. Dickey, then he thrilled a fan before the nightcap by taking a selfie in right field with her phone.
“They were trying to take a selfie with me,” Harper told The Associated Press. “I went over there and said, ‘Hey, toss me the phone and I’ll do it for you.’”
A day after rain postponed the first meeting between the teams since 2012, the game began with only a few dozen fans in the stands. Not many more showed for the evening matchup with more rain threatened.
Pillar opened the scoring with a solo homer in the second and went 3 for 3 against Scherzer.
In the opener, Toronto loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but Zimmermann got Russell Martin to ground into a double play.
Harper singled during a two-run fifth against Dickey (2-6).
The right fielder went 3 for 7 with a double, run and stolen base in the two games.
Moore drove in two of Washington’s three runs against Estrada with an RBI double and sacrifice fly.
Nationals: CF Denard Span did not play in either game after leaving Sunday’s loss at Cincinnati with a sore right knee.
IN THE GROOVE
Zimmermann has not lost since falling to 1-2 on April 18. Over his last four starts, he is 3-0 with 0.96 ERA in 28 innings.
Washington recalled OF Matt den Dekker from Triple-A Syracuse to serve as the 26th man for the second game of the doubleheader.
Blue Jays: LHP Mark Buehrle (6-4, 4.97) is scheduled to start for Wednesday’s series finale.
Nationals: With Stephen Strasburg on the DL, RHP Taylor Jordan (0-1) will make his first start of the season on Wednesday.