By Sam Bush

Zack Wheeler tossed three-hit ball over 6 2/3 innings, Jay Bruce hit a solo homer and the Phillies beat Max Scherzer and the Nationals 3-0.

Neil Walker was 3 for 3 with two RBIs for the Phillies, who’ve won eight of nine and three in a row to go two games over .500 for the first time since they were 79-77 last Sept. 24.

The defending World Series champion Nationals have lost five straight and eight of nine to fall to 12-22. They’ve been shut out in consecutive games.

Nola was excellent Tuesday night, throwing a two-hitter in eight innings against Washington.

”When you have a pitcher like him and staff like ours, you try to go out there and compete and just try to beat their night,” Wheeler said. ”It’s a friendly competition. It’s healthy to go out and push yourself. When he goes out and does what he did, that’s tough to beat.”

Wheeler (4-0) struck out six and lowered his ERA to 2.20. David Phelps retired the four batters he faced in his debut with the Phillies. Brandon Workman finished for his eighth save in nine chances and fourth for Philadelphia.

Wheeler knows facing Scherzer leaves little margin for error.

”With him out there you know he’s gonna pitch a great game,” Wheeler said. ”You go out there and stay within yourself but you know he’s on the other side.”

Scherzer (3-2) gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings. He slammed his glove with two hands in the dugout after his final inning.

”Frustrated,” Sherzer said. ”You want to go out there and win. As a starting pitcher, you want to pitch deep and get deep into the game and be winning a game. We’re in a losing streak, and you want to be the stopper. I wasn’t, and that’s frustrating. For me, the way I looked I allowed a tack-on run, which makes it makes it even harder for our offense to score. The way the sixth inning was unfolding, it was frustrating for me. So yeah, it’s emotional, slammed my glove, oh well.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner ran into trouble in the fourth when he walked J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura and Alec Bohm lined a single to load the bases with one out. Walker then slapped an opposite-field hit to left-center to score two.

”I do what I can to stay as sharp as I can,” Walker said. ”The role I’m in, stay as ready as I can at a moment’s notice.”

Bruce drove his sixth homer the opposite way to left in the sixth to make it 3-0.

Victor Robles, Asdrubal Cabrera and Luis Garcia hit singles off Wheeler, who threw 108 pitches. Wheeler has been outstanding for the Phillies in his first season after signing a $118 million, five-year contract in free agency.

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