WASHINGTON — Max Scherzer, making his home debut after a memorable 2015 in which he threw a pair of no-hitters, endured a rough outing Monday.
Scherzer didn’t have no-hit stuff — he gave up two hits in the first inning and three in the second — but batterymate Wilson Ramos helped coax his right-hander through six innings.
It was the first four-hit game for Ramos since Sept. 15, 2013, against the Philadelphia Phillies. Ramos had a two-out single in the seventh to drive in a run and give the Nationals a 6-4 advantage.
“Ramos had four hits. He found every single hole. Good for him, bad for us,” Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
The Braves, who have lost 11 in a row in Washington, fell to 0-6. They are the only winless team in the National League.
“Today was what good baseball should like that,” said Gonzalez, who added that was not the case during the previous five games. “We played good baseball, we swung the bats, pitched well. We made some good pitches. We are close.”
But not close enough against Scherzer, who gave up four runs on six hits in six innings. He finished with six strikeouts and three walks while throwing 100 pitches. Scherzer (1-0) had not pitched since Opening Day on April 4 at Atlanta.
“When your number is called, you have to go out there and produce,” Scherzer said. “It is as simple as that. Short rest, normal rest, extra day, two extra days, you have to go out there and produce. There is just no qualms about it.
“Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the opponent. That was the situation; I made some pitches I just didn’t execute. Sometimes at the big league level that happens. At least I finished strong and collected outs when I needed. I was able to leave with a good taste in my mouth.”
Washington closer Jonathan Papelbon, appearing in back-to-back games for the first time this season, pitched the ninth for his fourth save in as many tries.
Ryan Zimmerman had two hits, three runs, a walk and sacrifice fly for the Nationals, and Michael A. Taylor had two hits from the leadoff spot after he entered the game hitting .063. The Braves’ Nick Markakis had two doubles, and Adonis Garcia also had two hits for Atlanta.
Braves starter Bud Norris (0-2) allowed five runs on nine hits in five innings.
Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper went 0-for-3 with a walk and struck out for the first time this season, taking a called third strike in the seventh against Atlanta lefty Eric O’Flaherty. Harper had not fanned in his first 16 official at-bats this season. He has seven walks, two homers and two doubles.
Ramos gave the Nationals a 5-4 lead in the fifth with a solid RBI single with two outs against Norris.
“He battled. He is a battler,” Gonzalez said of Norris.
The Nationals, in a game with a lot of early-inning offense, had tied the game at 4 on Danny Espinosa‘s third-inning sacrifice fly.
Markakis had two-run double with two outs in the second as the Braves took the lead at 4-3.
Washington scored three runs in the first. Zimmerman had a sacrifice fly to drive in the first run and Murphy followed with a two-run homer to right to give the Nationals a 3-2 lead.
“During the game, he is really concentrating,” Ramos said of Scherzer. “I want to stay on the same page with him. That is the most important thing with us.”
Said Nationals manager Dusty Baker of Scherzer: “He wants to win.”
NOTES: Braves CF Mallex Smith made his big league debut and got his first hit in the second inning. He was shaken up in the fourth when he was hit in the face by his helmet, causing a big gash on his forehead that left him bleeding, as he was thrown out trying to steal second. Drew Stubbs took over in center field for the bottom of the fourth in place of Smith, who had a laceration over his left eye and is listed day-to-day. … The Braves put RHP Dan Winkler (fractured right elbow) on the 15-day disabled list and designated RHP Jose Ramirez for assignment Monday. They also selected the contracts of RHP Joel De La Cruz from Triple-A Gwinnett and LHP Hunter Cervenka from Double-A Mississippi. … Washington, with Monday’s game, played on back-to-back days for the first time this season. The Nationals had off days on April 5 and Friday, and they did not play Saturday due to inclement weather in the nation’s capital. … Washington was 10-0 at home last season against Atlanta and is now 24-9 at home against the Braves since June 21, 2014.