Nats hit 3 HRs in Shields' ugly debut, rout White Sox 11-4
CHICAGO (AP) The Washington Nationals scored early and often, which allowed manager Dusty Baker to sit back and enjoy the view Wednesday night.
''We haven't had a whole bunch of games like this when I haven't had to manage much,'' Baker said. ''It's the kind of games that you like.''
Ryan Zimmerman hit one of three home runs off James Shields in his miserable White Sox debut, Max Scherzer threw seven scoreless innings and the Nationals routed reeling Chicago 11-4.
Zimmerman's two-run shot in a four-run first inning was followed by consecutive shots by Stephen Drew and Danny Espinosa to lead off the second.
Everyone in the Nationals lineup reached base safely at least once in two-plus innings off Shields (2-8), who was booed while giving up seven runs and eight hits three days after being acquired from San Diego.
Instead of jump-starting a club once 23-10, Shields failed to get out of the third inning for the second straight start. The White Sox lost for the 20th time in 26 games to fall under .500.
''I was kind of all over the place today really,'' Shields said. ''Fastball location wasn't very good. I wasn't getting ahead of hitters and when I did get the ball over the plate they hit it out of the yard, so I've got to do a better job of that.''
Scherzer (7-4) allowed five hits for the Nationals, who have scored at least 10 runs in three straight games and are 9-2 in interleague play this season.
''That's a challenge when you do get early runs and you go up big in the first two innings,'' Scherzer said. ''You still have to stay mentally locked and execute the game plan the way you want to.
''The human reaction is to ease off and relax because you've gone up big and you feel like it's gonna be easy to win now. But it's just the opposite. You've got to mentally tighten up even more and go out there and stay hungry, because it can happen in a heartbeat . hit, hit and then a three-run bomb and then you're frustrated with your outing.''
Jayson Werth hit a three-run homer off David Robertson in the eighth as the Nationals pounced on Shields for their seventh win in nine games.
Shields, who helped Tampa Bay and Kansas City reach the World Series in recent years, has fallen on hard times since signing a four-year, $75 million deal with San Diego before last season.
Padres executive Ron Fowler called his performance ''an embarrassment'' after he allowed 10 runs in 2 2/3 innings last week. He was traded to the White Sox four days later, and had command issues again.
Zimmerman crushed a belt-high 90 mph fastball to left in the first, before the lefty-hitting Drew and Espinosa pulled off-speed pitches.
The crowd cheered sarcastically when Shields struck out Bryce Harper after four straight hits in the second. Fans jeered when Shields was yanked after Anthony Rendon's leadoff single in the third.
Scherzer retired the first nine batters, struck out six and walked one.
The White Sox scored four in the ninth to avoid being shut out.
Nationals: RHP Matt Belisle (calf) remained on his rehab assignment at Triple-A Syracuse despite an overworked bullpen. ''We didn't even talk about (bringing in another arm),'' Baker said.
White Sox: RHP Zach Putnam (elbow soreness) replaced Shields and allowed two hits in the third inning. An MRI cleared Putnam after he was unavailable for two games.
HARPER SLIPS, SHINES
Harper dropped to second behind Cubs OF Dexter Fowler in the latest All-Star fan voting on a busy night. He pushed a bunt toward third for a hit against the shift in the first, threw out Jimmy Rollins at the plate from right field to end the fifth and doubled in the sixth.
POSITION PLAYER PITCHING
White Sox OF J.B. Shuck, who pitched at Ohio State, allowed a run in the ninth in his big league pitching debut. He gave up one of Washington's 18 hits.
''He looked pretty good,'' Washington's Ben Revere said. ''I don't know the last time he pitched, but he looked pretty good. He had a little cut to his fastball, so I was impressed.''
White Sox RHP Miguel Gonzalez (0-1, 3.93 ERA) replaces Carlos Rodon (neck) in the series finale Thursday night. LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-4, 3.94) starts for the Nationals.