Scherzer’s no-hitter for 7 innings leads Nationals to 2-0 NLCS lead over Cardinals

Oct. 12 (UPI) — The Washington Nationals took a 2-0 lead in the National League Championship Series with back-to-back sterling performances by starting pitchers in road games.

Matt Scherzer held the St. Louis Cardinals hitless for 7 innings en route to a 3-1 victory Saturday at Busch Stadium.

After winning both games in St. Louis, the Nationals return home. Teams that have won the first two games in the 2-3-2 format have won 21 of 24 times.

The Cardinals have scored only one run in 18 innings.

In Game 1, Anibal Sanchez carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning in a 2-0 victory the night before.

In 2013, Sanchez and Scherzer, as members of the Detroit Tigers, held the Boston Red Sox hitless in the first two games of the ALCS.

“It’s kind of nice going back up 2-0 in the series, but those guys are really good over there,” Nationals Manager Dave Martinez told reporters. “The series is far from over. We got a day off tomorrow, we’re going to spend the night, get a good rest and work out tomorrow for a little while, and then get back at it the next day.

“We got [Stephen Strasburg] on the mound, so hopefully he comes out and gives us what he can. And hopefully he does what Sanchie and Scherzer did the last two games. But we still got a long way to go.”

Strasburg will be opposed by Jack Flaherty.

“This team’s got a lot of personality and a lot of grit to it,” Scherzer said. “And we got, really, 25 guys, no matter who it is, when their number gets called, they’re going to lay it all on the line for each other. It’s such a treat to be in the clubhouse like this and … to know that that’s the type of baseball we’re playing.”

After walking Kolten Wong in the first inning, Scherzer retired 16 consecutive batters until he walked Dexter Fowler in the sixth inning.

His no-hit bid was broken up by Paul Goldschmidt with a line-drive single to open the seventh. He left the game after striking out 11 and walking two.

Sean Doolittle relieved Scherzer and ended the inning with a strikeout and a double play.

“He was dynamite,” Martinez said about Scherzer. “I mean, his stuff was good, his changeup was really good today, utilized it well. Fastball was good. He was locating his fastball early in the count, so he was good.”

The Nationals took a 1-0 lead on a third-inning homer by Michael A. Taylor.

Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright also was strong, working 7 1/3 inning with 11 strikeouts.

He allowed Adam Eaton‘s two-run double with one out in the eighth. Andrew Miller finished the inning by retiring two batters.

The Cardinals ended a 22-inning drought without a run in the eighth. Paul DeJong singled with two outs and pinch-hitter Jose Martinez doubled over the head of center fielder Michael Taylor. But Dexter Fowler flew out to right field to end the inning.

Miller was relieved by Ryan Helsey in the ninth, allowing no hits.

Nationals reliever Patrick Corbin struck out one batter and Daniel Hudson one to end the game.

In all the Cardinals had three hits compared with three for the Nationals.

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