Max Scherzer won't be pitching in Tuesday's All-Star Game, but he will be on the mound for Washington's final contest before the break.
That could mean bad news for the struggling Baltimore Orioles.
Scherzer seeks his 10th victory for the Nationals on Sunday at Camden Yards.
Though he's been selected for his third consecutive Midsummer Classic, Scherzer (9-7, 2.12 ERA) won't be participating. A clause in the collective bargaining agreement allows pitchers who start on the Sunday before to pitch in the All-Star Game, but Scherzer has elected not to.
"It's a great honor to be able to pitch in an All-Star Game," manager Matt Williams said, "But his view is that the most important thing is to help us win games."
Scherzer is looking to join Felix Hernandez as the only other pitcher to win at least 10 games before the break each of the last three seasons. He'll have to shake off his worst outing of the year, however, after giving up five runs over a season-low 4 2-3 innings in Tuesday's 5-0 loss to Cincinnati.
"I've had stinkers before. It's just part of the deal," he told MLB's official website. "I don't get fazed by them anymore."
Scherzer is trying to snap his third two-game skid of the season, and he was nearly untouchable the last time he pitched after a second straight loss. He struck out a career-high 16 in a one-hit 4-0 win at Milwaukee on June 14.
The right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.92 ERA in six career starts against Baltimore.
Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa went deep Saturday in a 7-4 victory, snapping a three-game losing streak for the Nationals (47-39). The Orioles (44-43) lost for the ninth time in 12 games, a span in which they're 7 for 80 (.088) with runners in scoring position. They were hitting a major league-best .319 previously.
"We're just going through it right now, a tough period" said Steve Pearce, who hit his seventh homer. "We've got to try to battle through it, and we'll do it."
Chris Davis is 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position in the last 12, while J.J. Hardy and Jimmy Paredes are a combined 0 for 19 in such situations. Davis is 7 for 17 against Scherzer and Jones is 9 for 18. Hardy is 4 for 23.
Opponents are 7 for 16 off Scherzer with runners in scoring position over his last three starts. They had been 11 for 56 (.196).
Baltimore's Wei-Yin Chen (4-4, 2.82) hasn't lost in six starts, though he has surrendered two solo shots in each of his last three. The six home runs match the most he's ever allowed in a three start-span.
The left-hander's 1.50 home runs allowed per nine innings marks the highest rate of his four-year career, though manager Buck Showalter has been OK with the long balls given Chen's ability to limit the damage.
"Usually (solo home runs) don't beat you," Showalter told MLB's official website. "(Chen) found his step there and gave us a really good chance to win. Two runs are two runs anyway you look at it."
Chen is 1-2 with a 6.60 ERA in three career starts against Washington, surrendering four home runs in 15 innings.