By Sam Bush
Max Scherzer allowed one run in six innings and passed two umpire inspections, as the visiting Nats beat the Miami Marlins 5-1 for a split of their four-game series.
The Nats are now in second place in NL East, four games behind the leading Mets.
Scherzer (7-4) struck out seven and lowered his ERA to 2.14. The three-time Cy Young Award winner, who threatened to disrobe when baseball began its crackdown on sticky substances, underwent two brief examinations at the end of innings.
“He checked my hat, checked my glove, checked my belt,” Scherzer said with a frown. “Whatever. Whatever.”
Scherzer has said the MLB crackdown has made it more difficult to grip and control pitches.
“Everybody is getting used to it,” he said. “Everybody is having to deal with it. I’m not going to sit here and make excuses about it. Everybody has to play under these rules now.”
Helping Scherzer’s mood were opposite-field two-run homers by Trea Turner and Josh Bell in the sixth inning against Sandy Alcantara to break the game open.
“When you get two two-run shots — I don’t care about your solo shots, I want your two-run shots,” Scherzer said with a grin.
“A two-run lead is a big deal when he’s on the bump,” Turner said.
The score was 1-all in the sixth when Alcantara (4-7) unraveled. He walked Kyle Schwarber on four pitches to lead off, and Turner hit his 12th homer. Juan Soto reached on an infield hit, and Bell hit his 11th homer.
Alcantara, who allowed five runs in 5 1/3 innings, said he was fighting an illness and hadn’t slept well. It was the first time since last Aug. 30 that he gave up more than one homer in a game.
“I was battling, but I was missing a lot of pitches,” Alcantara said. “They made adjustments in that last inning. I feel bad about it.”
The Nationals scored an unearned run in the first. Schwarber reached when his grounder was mishandled by third baseman Jon Berti, and he later came home on a two-out single by Josh Harrison.