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Almost perfect: Nats Max Scherzer finishes out no-hitter

nationals_logoMax Scherzer was one strike from perfection, but after hitting Pirates pinch-hitter Jose Tabata with a 2-2 pitch, the Nats ace bore down and got Josh Harrison to fly out to left to complete a no-hitter in a 6-0 Washington win on Saturday at Nationals Park.

Scherzer (8-5) struck out 10 in his second straight brilliant start. On Sunday, the righty took a perfect game into the seventh inning before finishing with a complete-game one-hitter in a 4-0 win at Milwaukee in which he struck out 16 Brewers.

Bryce Harper, returning from a strained hamstring suffered earlier in the week, hit his 23rd homer of the season, a solo shot in the fourth, and an RBI single in a four-run sixth that broke the game open against Pittsburgh starter Francisco Liriano (4-6).

Scherzer took over from there, mowing down Pirates hitters with only one real threat at a base hit in the late innings. With two outs in the eighth, Pedro Alvarez pulled a grounder to the right side of the infield, and Danny Espinosa, playing almost in short right on a defensive shift, got Alvarez at first on a bang-bang play to end the inning.

Scherzer then quietly and quickly retired Gregory Polanco and Jordy Mercer in the ninth. Tabata got down in the count 0-2, then worked it back to 2-2, before fouling off three straight two-strike pitches. The fourth 2-2 pitch was a backdoor slider that Tabata leaned into, and the pitch hit him on an elbow pad on his left arm.

Harrison flew out to left on an 0-2 pitch to finish out the second no-hitter in Nationals history.