Nationals-Pirates Preview

Max Scherzer and Washington Nations fans will be able to rest easy with the knowledge that Jose Tabata won't be at PNC Park for the Pittsburgh Pirates for Friday night's matchup.

Scherzer faces the Pirates for the first time since he no-hit them last month in a contest more memorable for Tabata breaking up his perfect game by getting hit by a pitch with two outs in the ninth inning.

The right-hander retired the first 26 Pittsburgh hitters on June 20 before facing pinch-hitter Tabata, who fouled off three 2-2 pitches before the next one nicked his left elbow to stun the crowd at Nationals Park. Scherzer, who was within one strike of the 22nd perfect game in big league history since 1900, settled for the second no-hitter in team history by getting Josh Harrison to fly out and finished with 10 strikeouts.

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While Scherzer (10-8, 2.09 ERA) celebrated the moment by getting doused with chocolate syrup, there was talk afterward about whether Tabata should have gotten out of the way. The Nationals certainly felt so.

"His elbow was a little bit in the strike zone. That's what I saw in the videos. But it's happened," catcher Wilson Ramos said.

Tabata was sent to the minors June 30.

Scherzer has gone 2-3 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since the no-hitter, receiving four runs of support in the last four. He was charged with one over six innings with eight strikeouts in Sunday's 5-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Zack Greinke.

Greinke leads the majors in ERA (1.30) and road ERA (1.10), with Scherzer second in both. Scherzer is 6-3 with a 1.57 ERA in 10 road outings.

"I love facing the best," Scherzer said. "Right now, he's the best, he started the All-Star Game."

Scherzer is 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA in seven starts against the Pirates, though he is 0-2 with a 5.82 ERA in three on the road. Andrew McCutchen is 4 for 17 against him, Pedro Alvarez is 0 for 10 and Francisco Cervelli is 1 for 10.

Those three hitters homered in Thursday's 7-3 victory in the opener of this four-game set. The Pirates (55-40) went deep twice on a 1-5 trip prior to this series.

Washington (51-43) fell to 13-7 against left-handed starters after losing to Francisco Liriano, who held the Nationals hitless through four innings and finished with 11 strikeouts as Pittsburgh posted its ninth win in 10 home games.

''We need to get our game in a better place,'' manager Clint Hurdle said. ''We were able to get our game in a better place tonight.''

The Nationals will face another southpaw Friday in Jeff Locke (5-6, 4.01), who has a 2.53 ERA and no record against them in two starts. No Washington hitter has more than five at-bats versus him.

Locke has a 2.58 home ERA compared to 6.57 on the road. He surrendered three runs in 7 1-3 innings in Sunday's 6-1 loss at Milwaukee.

Washington star Bryce Harper went 1 for 4 on Thursday after homering in each of his other two games against Pittsburgh this year. He's 5 for 26 at PNC Park - the only NL stadium in which he has yet to go deep.

The Pirates acquired former Pittsburgh third baseman Aramis Ramirez from Milwaukee on Thursday, though the 37-year-old is not expected to join the team until Saturday.