WASHINGTON (AP) — Marcell Ozuna and the St. Louis Cardinals caught an early break against Max Scherzer, and wound up with a five-game winning.
Ozuna got three hits, including an RBI double that was misplayed, as Miles Mikolas and the Cardinals beat the Washington Nationals 5-1 Wednesday night.
The Cardinals touched up Scherzer (1-4) for three runs in the first inning as Victor Robles — playing right field in place of Juan Soto, who was scratched from the lineup with back spasms — misread Ozuna’s flyball for a gift run.
Jose Martinez delivered a two-run single a batter later, and the Cardinals were on the way to their 10th win in 11 games.
“I make mistakes,” Scherzer said. “I am not here to worry about other people’s mistakes. If you do, that’s a losing mentality. So you just have to go out there and compete and do everything you can to win the ballgame. Unfortunately, tonight they made more winning plays than we did, and it’s frustrating when you lose.”
Scherzer pitched seven innings and struck out eight. He yielded eight hits, half of them coming in the opening inning.
“He’s one of the aces in the National League,” Ozuna said. “If we can get him early, we can beat him.”
Mikolas (3-2), who was winless in his first three road starts this season, surrendered a run and seven hits in six innings.
“His fastball command was a little spotty, but he had the curveball he could rely on,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. “He made pitches and was effective in the zone when he needed to be. He competed really well. He had some traffic out there and left it out there and did a nice job to get through six.”
Washington has lost the first three games of the series and six of its last seven overall, and fell to 12-17.
After the Nationals scored in the fourth, they didn’t get a runner to third base the rest of the night. Their best chance to erase the deficit came on Mikolas’ final pitch, which resulted in a flyball to left by Michael A. Taylor that Ozuna caught while backed up against the door to the visitor’s bullpen.
“Ozuna’s great at navigating the wall back there,” Mikolas said. “I saw him get there and he had a hand on the wall. He was ready to make a jump for it, but he didn’t have to, which is nice.”
St. Louis added two runs in the eighth off Joe Ross, ending the Washington bullpen’s scoreless streak at 16 innings.
Cardinals: RHP Luke Gregerson (shoulder impingement) threw to seven batters during a pregame batting practice session. “Stuff looked good. He had some later movement to his ball, had some finish to his pitches,” Shildt said. “We’ll see how he recovers and based on that and based on the next couple days we’ll find the right spot to get him activated.” … OF Dexter Fowler (illness) was unavailable for the second game in a row.
Nationals: Soto, who is hitting .248 with six homers and 22 RBIs, had played every inning in each of Washington’s first 28 games before he was scratched from the original lineup. He was available but was not used off the bench. “I didn’t want to take any chances with him,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “Hopefully, tomorrow he comes out and he’s fine and ready to go.”
St. Louis SS Paul DeJong singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, the longest current active run in the National League.
Scherzer, who now has 2,511 career strikeouts, passed Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson for 34th on the all-time list in that category.
Cardinals: RHP Dakota Hudson (2-1, 5.63 ERA) looks to win his third consecutive start. He is 1-0 with a 7.71 ERA in four lifetime appearances (all in relief) against Washington.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (2-1, 3.82) faces the Cardinals for the first time since 2016 as the four-game series concludes.