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Scherzer cools off Rays, Nats win 6-1; Suzuki smacks 3 hits

Washington’s Kurt Suzuki celebrates with Will Harris and others after their win over Tampa Bay on Monday. AP photo

WASHINGTON — For one night in this dud of a season for Washington, the defending World Series champion Nationals looked like themselves — getting a solid start from Max Scherzer, timely hitting and crisp defense.

That they did it with recently signed utilityman Brock Holt batting third and banged-up catcher Kurt Suzuki as the cleanup hitter shows just how awry things have gone for the Nationals in 2020.

“Nothing’s normal this year,” Scherzer said.

Scherzer cooled off Tampa Bay with seven scoreless innings, and the Nationals beat the AL East-leading Rays 6-1 on Monday night.

Suzuki, a 2001 Baldwin High School graduate, had an RBI double among his three hits and Michael A. Taylor drove in two runs for the last-place Nationals, who were missing several regulars and started Holt at designated hitter for the sixth time in his career. Holt went 2 for 4 with a double and has nine hits over his past three games.

“I always admired the way he played the game from the other side, playing against him, always thought he was a tough out, puts the ball in play, plays all the positions, great teammate,” Suzuki said of Holt, who signed with Washington in late August after the Brewers released him. “He’s fun to have in the lineup. He’s a little spark plug for us.”

Scherzer (4-2) stranded six baserunners in the first four innings before settling in and retiring 10 straight batters in one stretch. The three-time Cy Young Award winner allowed six hits, struck out eight and walked one in his second-longest outing of the season.

“I always want to get through seven innings,” Scherzer said. “That’s a good team over there. They’ve been playing great baseball and their offense has been doing some good things. They had me on the ropes a few times early in the game. Was able to throw some big pitches to prevent runs from scoring and then just went to work.”

Scherzer said his curveball and changeup were sharper than they had been recently and that made his fastball more effective.

“It almost seemed like his fastball got better as the game went on,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Once he settles in, he gets really, really tough. Whether it’s command, whether it’s some extra velocity, there’s a reason he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame one day.”

Major League Standings

AMERICAN LEAGUE

East Division

W L Pct GB

Tampa Bay 28 14 .667 —

Toronto 23 18 .561 41⁄2

New York 21 20 .512 61⁄2

Baltimore 19 21 .475 8

Boston 14 28 .333 14

Central Division

W L Pct GB

Chicago 26 15 .634 —

Cleveland 26 15 .634 —

Minnesota 26 17 .605 1

Detroit 18 21 .462 7

Kansas City 14 28 .333 121⁄2

West Division

W L Pct GB

Oakland 24 14 .632 —

Houston 21 20 .512 41⁄2

Seattle 19 22 .463 61⁄2

Los Angeles 17 25 .405 9

Texas 13 27 .325 12

NATIONAL LEAGUE

East Division

W L Pct GB

Atlanta 24 17 .585 —

Philadelphia 20 17 .541 2

Miami 18 18 .500 31⁄2

New York 19 23 .452 51⁄2

Washington 15 25 .375 81⁄2

Central Division

W L Pct GB

Chicago 24 18 .571 —

St. Louis 17 16 .515 21⁄2

Milwaukee 18 21 .462 41⁄2

Cincinnati 18 23 .439 51⁄2

Pittsburgh 13 26 .333 9⁄1⁄2

West Division

W L Pct GB

Los Angeles 30 12 .714 —

San Diego 26 17 .605 41⁄2

San Francisco 21 21 .500 9

Colorado 20 21 .488 91⁄2

Arizona 15 27 .357 15

All times HST

Monday’s Results

American League

Minnesota 6, Detroit 2

Seattle 8, Texas 4

Cleveland 5, Kansas City 2

Toronto 12, N.Y. Yankees 7

Oakland 6, Houston 0

National League

Miami 5, Atlanta 4, 10 innings

Philadelphia 9, N.Y. Mets 8, 10 innings

Chicago Cubs 5, St. Louis 1

San Francisco 4, Arizona 2

San Diego 1, Colorado 0

Interleague

Washington 6, Tampa Bay 1

Today’s Games

American League

Kansas City (Junis 0-1) at Cleveland (McKenzie 2-0), 12:10 p.m.

Oakland (Montas 2-3) at Houston (Greinke 3-0), 12:10 p.m., 1st game

N.Y. Yankees (Happ 1-1) at Toronto (Walker 3-2), 12:37 p.m.

Milwaukee (Houser 1-3) at Detroit (Turnbull 3-2), 1:10 p.m.

L.A. Angels (Heaney 3-2) at Texas (Lynn 4-2), 2:05 p.m.

Houston (TBD) at Oakland (Minor 0-5), 3:40 p.m., 2nd game

National League

Miami (Sánchez 1-1) at Atlanta (Wright 0-3), 1:10 p.m.

Milwaukee (Houser 1-3) at Detroit (Turnbull 3-2), 1:10 p.m.

Cincinnati (Mahle 1-1) at Chicago Cubs (Mills 3-3), 2:15 p.m.

Colorado (González 0-0) at San Diego (Clevinger 1-2), 3:10 p.m.

L.A. Dodgers (Buehler 1-0) at Arizona (Weaver 1-6), 3:40 p.m.

Interleague

Minnesota (Berríos 3-3) at St. Louis (Martínez 0-1), 9:15 a.m., 1st game

Boston (Pérez 2-4) at Philadelphia (TBD), 10:05 a.m., 1st game

Tampa Bay (TBD) at Washington (Sánchez 1-4), 12:05 p.m.

Minnesota (TBD) at St. Louis (Ponce de Leon 0-3), 12:45 p.m., 2nd game

Chicago White Sox (Cease 5-2) at Pittsburgh (Musgrove 0-4), 1:05 p.m.

Baltimore (Means 0-3) at N.Y. Mets (Wacha 1-2), 1:10 p.m.

Boston (TBD) at Philadelphia (TBD), 1:35 p.m., 2nd game

Seattle (Newsome 0-0) at San Francisco (Webb 2-3), 3:45 p.m.

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