- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Washington Nationals are finding runs hard to come by.

Mark Buehrle threw a six-hitter - his 11th career shutout - and the Toronto Blue Jays scored four runs in the first inning to win the rubber game of the interleague series 8-0 over the Nationals on Wednesday night.

After an offensive surge that lasted most of May, the Nationals have managed just 22 runs in their last nine games, including five in the Toronto series.

“It’s about getting quality pitches to hit and taking advantage of opportunities,” Nationals manager Matt Williams said after his team lost for the fifth time in six games.

“During that long stretch that we had, we really took advantage of those opportunities that were presented to us, and it hasn’t been as good lately.”

Bryce Harper went 2 for 4 with a double against Buehrle. The Washington outfielder was named National League Player of the Month for May before the game.

“We’ve got a great lineup. It happens that way,” Harper said of the offense’s struggles. “Hopefully (Anthony) Rendon (left knee sprain) will get back pretty soon and give us a little jolt in this lineup.”

Buehrle (7-4) worked fast and effectively against the NL East leaders, needing only 93 pitches for his first shutout since 2013.

The first four batters reached against Taylor Jordan (0-2), who made his first start this season for the Nationals this season with Stephen Strasburg sidelined.

Jose Bautista, Chris Colabello and Kevin Pillar had RBI singles in the first inning. Bautista hit a solo home run in the eighth. Jose Reyes had three hits and drove in two runs.

Jordan allowed a career-high seven earned runs and 10 hits in six innings against the highest-scoring offense in the majors.

“During the first inning, for whatever reason, I was leaving the ball up and wasn’t having movement to my pitches, probably because they were left up,” Jordan said.

Washington put runners on base in each of the first six innings against Buehrle, but rarely threatened, twice hitting into inning-ending double plays.

Washington went the last 13 innings of the series without a run.

Buehrle picked up his 30th career win in interleague play, the most among active players, and 206th of his Major League career.

By comparison, Jordan fell to 1-7 in 15 career starts.

Recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on May 24, the right-hander made his season debut in relief of Strasburg on Friday at Cincinnati. Strasburg (neck tightness) was placed on the 15-day disabled list the following day.


Washington swept the NL monthly awards as Max Scherzer (5-1, 1.67 in May) was selected Pitcher of the Month. Scherzer and Harper are the first teammates to win the awards in the same month since Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun and CC Sabathia in July 2008. Harper batted .360 with 13 home runs and 28 RBIs in May.


Blue Jays: Edwin Encarnacion remained sidelined with a left hamstring injury. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he was available to pinch hit and hoped to use him as the DH Friday against Houston.

Nationals: CF Denard Span went 0 for 4 in his return to the starting lineup after sitting out Tuesday’s doubleheader. Washington’s leadoff hitter left Sunday’s loss at Cincinnati with a sore right knee.


Blue Jays: Toronto returns home for a three-game series against Houston. Aaron Sanchez (4-4, 3.88 ERA) faces fellow RHP Roberto Hernandez (2-4, 4.92) in Friday’s series opener.

Nationals: Gio Gonzalez (4-2, 4.73) faces Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta (4-4, 3.18). Washington won two of three in Chicago last month.



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