Nationals-Rockies Preview

The last time Max Scherzer pitched at Coors Field, he was experiencing one of a number of inconsistent stretches that defined his one full season with Arizona.

The Cy Young Award winner has evolved out of a great deal of that, but he'll take the mound in Colorado on Thursday night in a similar kind of rut for the Washington Nationals as they try for a three-game sweep of the Rockies.

Scherzer (11-9, 2.73 ERA) gave up six earned runs for the first time in his last 42 starts in Friday's 8-5 loss in San Francisco. The right-hander allowed seven hits in three innings with two leaving the yard, and he's given up five homers in his last two starts. Over three August outings, he's 0-1 with a 7.80 ERA and .306 opponent batting average.

"I get it. I stunk. There is no getting around that," Scherzer told MLB's official website. "... My arm slot is a little low right now. It causes my fastball to flatten out. When you think about the results tonight, a lot of damage was done against the fastball."

The previous start came against the Rockies (48-70) on Aug. 9 as Scherzer avoided the decision after giving up four runs and eight hits with 10 strikeouts in six innings of a 6-4 loss. Scherzer last pitched in Colorado in 2009 and is 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA in three career starts there. Carlos Gonzalez is 3 for 9 with three home runs in their matchups.

Scherzer is again facing Yohan Flande (2-1, 4.19), who has yet to lose in four starts this season. He's been fortunate to avoid that fate in his last two. The left-hander has a 5.91 ERA with five home runs allowed in 10 2-3 innings, and the first was against the Nationals (60-59) as Flande allowed a pair of solo homers to Ryan Zimmerman and one to Jayson Werth.

Flande is 0-1 with a 5.87 ERA in three starts against Washington with Zimmerman (4 for 6) and Ian Desmond (3 for 6) hitting him well.

With Wednesday's 4-1 win, the Nationals are 10-6 at Coors since last losing a series there in 2010. They have a .312 average in that time with Desmond batting .538 on a 12-game hitting streak in Denver.

They could also finally be getting some top-of-the-order help from Werth, who's strung together multihit games for just the second time this season after a 1-for-16 slump.

"It felt like something clicked," said Werth, who helped the team get within 3 1/2 games of the New York Mets in the NL East. "Hopefully I hold onto that going forward."

But what might have been most encouraging about the win was it was easily their best pitching performance in 10 games and one of their best of the season after limiting the Rockies to two hits. The staff had a 5.52 ERA over the preceding 2-7 span.

Colorado has lost eight of nine, and its terrible home pitching has reached new lows. Since the All-Star break, the Rockies have a 6.54 ERA and .311 opponent batting average in a 5-9 home span while limiting opponents to fewer than five runs twice. The staff's 5.55 season ERA at Coors is on pace to be the worst in baseball since the 2012 Rockies turned in a 5.97 mark.

The bullpen gave up all four runs Wednesday and has an 11.16 ERA with a 1.013 opponent OPS in the last six games.

"These things can be contagious, good and bad," manager Walt Weiss said. "It's on the bad side right now, running through the bullpen."

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