MIAMI — When Max Scherzer‘s bid for the third no-hitter of his big league career ended with an infield single in the eighth inning, he picked up the ball and flung it toward his dugout.
Not as a souvenir. Seven innings of dominance followed by an eighth-inning disaster left Scherzer in no mood for keepsakes.
After Ellis reached, Scherzer tried to gather himself as pitching coach Mike Maddux visited the mound.
“Those type of plays happen,” Scherzer said. “Obviously you’re frustrated, but you’ve got to move on. I hit the reset button. We went through how we wanted to finish, and I just wasn’t able to do it.
An error by backup first baseman Adam Lind, who bobbled a low throw, and a hit batter loaded the bases with two outs. Scherzer threw a wild pitch that scored the tying run , and Giancarlo Stanton lined an RBI single — the Marlins’ only other hit — to put them ahead.
“A couple of sliders got away from me,” Scherzer said. “That’s what cost me. That’s what lost the game.”
Scherzer (8-5) threw no-hitters against the Pirates and Mets in 2015, and a third seemed in his grasp when he began the eighth with a 1-0 lead.
He retired 18 in a row before Ellis topped a high-hopper that bounced in front of the plate and glanced off the tip of Scherzer’s glove as he reached overhead for it. The ball rolled to shortstop Trea Turner, who failed in his attempt to make a barehanded pickup and rush a throw.
Scherzer said the chopper was nearly a routine 1-3 putout.
“I was able to get a glove on it, and I thought I had caught it,” Scherzer said. “When I looked at the glove, it was empty.”
“A cheap infield hit,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.
Scherzer’s pitch count of 98 entering the eighth was a concern. He and Baker agreed he was still strong, but Nationals catcher Jose Lobaton wondered whether the right-handed workhorse could finish.
“He was running out of gas,” Lobaton said.
Scherzer ended up at 121 pitches, one less than his high in three seasons with the Nationals.
“It was his game,” Baker said. “He was still throwing the ball great. Who could you bring in who was throwing better than him?”
The Marlins pitched well, too, and Washington totaled only five hits against Dan Straily and three relievers. Kyle Barraclough (3-1) pitched the eighth, and A.J. Ramos worked around a two-out single in the ninth for his 10th save.
Miami took the three-game series against the NL East leaders, winning twice by a single run.
“All you need is a little blooper or a hit like Ellis got to get us started,” Stanton said. “It worked out for us.”
The only no-hitter in the majors this year was achieved on the same mound by Miami’s Edinson Volquez against Arizona on June 3.
The crowd of 22,659 for the 12:10 p.m. start included thousands of youngsters on camp day, and they gave the game a scream-filled soundtrack.
The score was 0-0 until Ryan Raburn hit his first homer of the year in the fifth. Raburn was a late replacement for outfielder Michael A. Taylor, who was scratched because of soreness.
That was the lone run allowed by Straily, who went six innings.
“It stinks that we lost,” Raburn said, “but he pitched his tail off.”
Scherzer has held the opposition hitless through five innings in 11 of his 82 starts for Washington.
“That was probably the best I’ve seen him,” Stanton said. “Balls were zooming. He was mixing his fastball and slider speeds and angles.”
Scherzer had 11 strikeouts, reaching double figures for the sixth game in a row, the team’s longest such streak such the franchise moved to Washington for the 2005 season.
He lowered his ERA to 2.08, best in the NL. He also leads the league with 145 strikeouts.
HEART OF THE ORDER MISSING
Marlins Spanish-language announcer Rafael “Felo” Ramirez is back in Miami following a lengthy hospital stay in Philadelphia after he fell stepping off the team bus. Ramirez, who has called games since the team’s inaugural 1993 season, turns 94 Thursday.
Nationals: Baker declined to elaborate on Taylor’s ailment. … 3B Anthony Rendon (sore neck) was back in the lineup after missing two games.
Nationals: The NL East-leading Nationals went 5-2 on a two-city trip. RHP Stephen Strasburg (8-2, 3.28) is scheduled to start Friday when they return home to face Cincinnati and former Marlins prospect Luis Castillo, who will make his major league debut.