WASHINGTON — The rain finally gave way to baseball at Nationals Park on Saturday, and Max Scherzer threw a wet blanket over the Chicago Cubs.
Scherzer pitched a complete game and Washington took advantage of the sloppy Cubs in a 10-3 victory in the opener of a doubleheader.
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.
“I knew he was fresh going into the ninth inning. He looked good. … He just told me he could pitch Game 2, but I told him we’ll get it,” manager Dave Martinez joked afterward.
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 to two errors and a wild pitch that resulted in a run.
Martinez visited Scherzer on the mound after the Cubs scored twice in the ninth, but left Scherzer in to get the final two outs.
“He asked me what I wanted to do. I said I wanted to finish it,” Scherzer said, noting the 66-degree gametime temperature had him feeling good. “We’ve been playing some hot games and for the weather to cool off, you just felt like you had unlimited energy and for me, I still had plenty in the tank.”
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 2 hours, 10 minutes by rain.
Juan Soto and Trea Turner drove in two runs each for Washington, which had lost three straight.
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 countered 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.