Scherzer, Ramos lead Nationals to 7-2 win, sweep of Phillies
PHILADELPHIA — Wilson Ramos has followed up his worst season with his best.
Max Scherzer had 11 strikeouts in eight sharp innings, Ramos hit a three-run homer and the Washington Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-2 on Wednesday night to complete a three-game sweep.
Ramos had three hits and four RBI, raising his average to .338. He batted a career-low .229 in 2015, and entered this season with a .258 average in six seasons.
"Overall where I think I'm more impressed is judgment in the strike zone," Ramos said.
Ramos had laser surgery on his eyes before the season.
"I can't answer if it's the vision," he said. "It's been helping me read pitches a lot earlier, and I've been more patient at the plate. It could very well be because of the surgery. I know that I am seeing the pitches a lot better and I'm staying more relaxed at the plate. It all adds to the success I'm having."
Danny Espinosa also went deep for the Nationals, who have won four straight. Reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper missed his second straight game after bruising his right knee when hit by a pitch on Monday.
Scherzer (6-4) bounced back from a rough start against the Cardinals -- five runs in seven innings. He gave up two runs and five hits to earn his sixth win in seven decisions against Philadelphia.
"I was able to pitch with four pitches and during the game I was able to get some swings and misses on some cutters, and that's a big pitch for me," Scherzer said. "If I can make that play, it seems to open up everything else. I was able to throw my curveball for a strike early in the count. It just allowed me to pitch with all my pitches tonight. When I can do that and attack the zone, that's when I have success."
Tyler Goeddel hit a two-run homer for the Phillies, who have lost six straight and 10 of 12. Adam Morgan (1-4) allowed six runs and nine hits in six innings.
"He has the stuff. He has the instincts but this is a result-oriented business," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.
Ramos connected in the sixth, driving an opposite-field shot to right for a 5-0 lead. Espinosa hit a solo shot to left one out later.
"He's really strong and quietly having an outstanding season," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said of Ramos.
Daniel Murphy hit a triple and scored the seventh run on Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Zimmerman ripped an RBI double in the first. Ramos drove in a run with a bloop single in the fourth.
The Nationals increased their lead in the NL East to three games over the Mets. The Phillies fell under .500 (26-27) for the first time since April 24.
Ryan Howard, the 2006 NL MVP and a holdover from the Phillies' glory days, is close to losing his starting job. Mackanin told Howard he plans to play rookieTommy Joseph at first base for the next three, four games. Joseph could stay there if he hits. Howard flied out as a pinch-hitter to end the game. He's batting .153 with eight homers and 19 RBI. He's in the last year of a $125 million contract.
NEW MAN IN TOWN
The Phillies acquired OF/INF Jimmy Paredes from Toronto for cash. Paredes was 4 for 15 for Toronto. He had a career-high 10 homers, 17 doubles and 42 RBI for Baltimore last season. INF Emmanuel Burriss was designated for assignment to make room for Paredes, who struck out in a pinch-hitting appearance.
Nationals: Harper could return to the lineup at Cincinnati on Friday night.
Phillies: LF/3B Cody Asche was 0 for 4 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He's batting .200 while working his way back from an oblique strain.
Nationals: After a day off, LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.57 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game series at the Reds. LHP Brandon Finnegan (1-4, 4.14) goes for Cincinnati.
Phillies: RHP Jerad Eickhoff (2-7, 4.07) starts the opener of a four-game series against Milwaukee on Thursday night. RHP Chase Anderson (2-6, 5.00) takes the mound for the Brewers.