(SportsNetwork.com) - Max Scherzer returns to Arizona to face the franchise that made him a first-round pick in 2006 as the Washington Nationals begin a three-game set with the Diamondbacks.
The Diamondbacks nabbed Scherzer 11th overall and he spent two seasons with the club, going 9-11 with a 4.12 earned run average in 30 starts in 2009 before getting dealt to the Detroit Tigers in December of that year in a three-team deal.
Scherzer emerged as a top-of-the rotation hurler over five seasons with the Tigers, going 82-35 with a 3.52 earned run average in 161 starts while striking out 1,081 batters in 1,013 innings. He was selected to a pair of All- Star teams and won the AL Cy Young Award in 2013.
The 30-year-old went on to sign a seven-year, $210 million deal with the Nationals this past offseason and is 2-3 with a 2.11 earned run average through six starts.
He snapped a two-start slide on Wednesday with a 7-5 win over the Miami Marlins despite giving up five runs and 10 hits over seven-plus innings. Scherzer did strike out 10 batters for a second straight outing and did not walk a batter for the third time in his last four starts. He was also supported offensively by Bryce Harper's three-homer game.
The right-hander has faced the Diamondbacks once before, getting a win back in 2010 with seven innings of one-run ball in which he struck out eight.
The Nationals have won four straight and seven of their past eight games, finishing off a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves with Sunday's 5-4 win. Harper came into the contest with six homers and 12 RBI over his previous three games and managed a pair of hits and an RBI.
Wilson Ramos and Ryan Zimmerman both drove in a run during the go-ahead eighth inning and finished with two RBI each. Jordan Zimmermann gave up three runs on eight hits over six innings, while Sammy Solis got the win for a scoreless inning of relief.
"I just stay with the same plan I always use," said Zimmermann. "I've found that if you panic and try changing your approach, it usually backfires on you so I've just been staying the course."
Washington did see third baseman Yunel Escobar exit Sunday's win after three innings due to a stomach virus.
The Diamondbacks come into this set having a split a four-game series with the San Diego Padres. They won Sunday's finale 2-1 on homers by Aaron Hill and A.J. Pollock.
Daniel Hudson allowed two hits over 3 1/3 innings of a spot start, striking out five. J.C. Ramirez got the win, Arizona's fourth in six games, after allowing one run on four hits over 2 2/3 frames in relief.
Though he is coming off a second straight winning start, Josh Collmenter will look for a better effort on the mound tonight against Washington.
Collmenter held the Rockies to just one unearned run over eight innings in a home victory on April 29, but struggled keeping them off the board during a rematch in Colorado on Wednesday. The righty was tagged for five runs on 10 hits, three of those homers, over seven innings, though he fanned five without a walk in the 13-7 decision.
It was still good enough for Collmenter to win for the third time in four starts and improve to 3-3 with a 3.40 ERA this season.
The 29-year-old is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in four previous meetings with the Nationals, including two starts.
The Nationals went 6-1 against the Diamondbacks last season and have won 14 of the previous 18 encounters.