PITTSBURGH — Hunter Strickland got the win with a rare two-inning outing.
But Max Scherzer was claiming a victory of sorts after his first start in nearly a month, as he pitched four innings in a 7-1 decision over the Pittsburgh Pirates Thursday at PNC Park.
Scherzer has never dealt with such issues after having back problems earlier this summer. He came off the injured list Thursday after a mild rhomboid strain issue.
“Here I am. I have to deal with it,” Scherzer said of going forward and his recovery process. “This is a good start (for that). I am not out of the woods. This injury is trickier than anyone thinks. Hopefully, I rebound well.”
Scherzer has repeated that it is the day after he pitches that is important. That will be challenging as the Nationals took a flight after the game to Chicago in time for a game with the Cubs on Friday afternoon.
“Get in your room and sleep,” Scherzer said of that travel situation.
Manager Dave Martinez was encouraged with the outing, as Scherzer faced 17 batters and threw 71 pitches.
“It was awesome, he felt good,” Martinez said. “His intensity was like always. I am assuming he is going to be sore like normal.”
Scherzer has an ERA of 2.41 after he fanned just three batters and gave up a solo homer to Adam Frazier in the third.
“I just wanted to come out here and pitch,” he said in the Nationals clubhouse. “I was able to go four innings and get a good feel for this. It was fun tonight. I feel pretty good. It is more about tomorrow than it is today. Right now I feel good.”
Strickland, picked up in late July, got the win as he did not allow a run in two innings of work. He had not pitched two innings in a game since August 2018, when he was with the Giants.
“He threw strikes,” Martinez said of Strickland. “He pitched really well.”
It was his ninth outing for Washington and first of the four-game series, as the Nationals won three. Strickland broke his nose lifting weights here Tuesday.
The Nationals (70-57) are a season-high 13 games over .500 but are still six back of first-place Atlanta in the National League East.
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