- Associated Press - Saturday, April 16, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Before Max Scherzer threw a pitch, the Philadelphia Phillies trailed 3-0 and radio analyst Larry Anderson called it an “insurmountable lead.”

He was right.

Scherzer threw seven impressive innings and hit a two-run double, Bryce Harper launched another homer and the Washington Nationals beat the Phillies 8-1 Saturday night.

Aaron Nola (0-2) became the second Phillies starter to get roughed up by the Nationals in two games. He gave up seven runs and seven hits in five innings.

“I didn’t have my fastball right out of the gate,” Nola said. “I kept missing and they kept putting good swings on the ball.”

A night after scoring five runs off Jeremy Hellickson in the first inning of a 9-1 win, the Nationals jumped ahead 3-0 before handing the ball to the 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner.

“I’ve seen Scherzer better, but he pitched well enough to win,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.

The Nationals are off to a 9-1 start, best in franchise history.

Scherzer (2-0) allowed one run and five hits, striking out seven.

Harper connected in the fifth, sending a deep drive out to right for his fifth homer. The reigning NL MVP has gone deep in his last five games in Philadelphia, dating to last year.

Harper started it with a sacrifice fly. Ryan Zimmerman followed with an RBI single and Daniel Murphy hit a triple to drive in the third run.

“They’re aggressive,” Nola said. “You’ve got to make quality pitches. Just too many balls over the plate.”

Scherzer ripped a two-run double the opposite way to right field after Danny Espinosa was intentionally walked with two outs in the fourth. Excited about his fourth career extra-base hit, Scherzer smacked his hand after rounding the bag.

Harper’s two-run shot in the fifth put the Nationals up 7-0. Pinch-hitter Chris Heisey had a solo homer in the ninth.


Nationals: Washington has a five-game lead in the NL East after only 10 games.

Phillies: Fell to 5-7 with their second straight loss.


Nola’s streak of 19 innings without a free pass ended when he walked the first batter. … Philadelphia’s Emmanuel Burriss hit his first triple since May 9, 2008, against the Phillies.


Darin Ruf started his first game in left field for the Phillies this season, including spring training. Ruf, who started 80 games in the outfield over the past four years, had been playing only first base in 2016. Mackanin planned to platoon him with Ryan Howard, but moved Ruf to LF to keep both hitters in the lineup. Ruf committed an error on his first chance, dropping the ball on the transfer on Harper’s shallow fly in the first. He went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.


Harper was picked off first base by Nola to end the third inning. He was ruled safe initially, but the Phillies challenged and the call was overturned following a video review.


Philadelphia’s starters had a league-leading 2.14 ERA after Vince Velasquez’s dazzling shutout Thursday. It’s up to 3.42 after the past two games.


Looking to complete a three-game sweep, the Nationals send LHP Gio Gonzalez (0-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound against RHP Charlie Morton (1-1, 5.23). Gonzalez tossed six shutout innings in his only start. Morton threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings in his last start.

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