WASHINGTON — Washington ace Max Scherzer lasted five innings in his return from the injured list, and the Colorado Rockies beat the Nationals 8-7 on Thursday in a battle of worn-out bullpens.

Ian Desmond led off the ninth with a homer off 42-year-old Fernando Rodney (0-4), who pitched in both games of Wednesday’s doubleheader. Rodney then walked Charlie Blackmon, who advanced on a wild pitch and a single by David Dahl, and Daniel Murphy drove in Blackmon with a groundout.

Murphy homered and scored three times for the Rockies, who avoided a four-game sweep and won for just the fourth time in their past 20 games. Jairo Diaz (3-2) worked a scoreless eighth, and Wade Davis earned his 15th save.

Anthony Rendon hit a three-run drive for Washington, which wasted a chance to gain ground on first-place Atlanta in the NL East.

Scherzer had been sidelined by inflammation under his right shoulder. He was 7-0 with a sparkling 0.87 ERA in his previous seven starts, but he struggled with his command at times in his first start since July 6.

He allowed three runs and four hits in matching his shortest outing of the season. The three-time Cy Young Award winner struck out eight, increasing his NL-leading total to 189, and he hasn’t lost since May 17, the last time he gave up three runs.

CARDINALS 6, PIRATES 3: Paul Goldschmidt homered in his career-high fourth straight game, powering St. Louis to a four-game sweep at Pittsburgh.

Goldschmidt drove a change-up from Joe Musgrove (7-9) for his 22nd home run, a solo shot that put St. Louis ahead 3-1 in the fourth.

He has one homer in each of his past five games against Pittsburgh.

Kolten Wong homered later in the fourth and Dexter Fowler hit a two-run drive for a 6-1 margin in the fifth as the Cardinals won for the 11th time in 14 games since the All-Star break, including their last five. The Pirates have lost 11 of 13.

METS 4, PADRES 0: Jacob deGrom pitched seven innings of four-hit ball while getting a rare bit of first-inning run support, and New York won at home.

Todd Frazier hit a two-run double as New York built a four-run lead in its first turn against Eric Lauer, the most runs the Mets have scored in the first inning during deGrom’s 160 starts. New York had scored four or more runs total in six of his 20 prior outings this season.

DeGrom (6-7) struck out nine and walked one on 105 pitches in the matinee, extending his scoreless streak to 17 innings. He has a 1.86 ERA in 52 day games, best in the majors since at least 1913 for pitchers with at least 200 innings.

Mets closer Edwin Diaz entered for the ninth in a non-save situation and was pulled after Manny Machado drilled a base hit off his left big toe. Diaz limped off the field with a trainer, was sent for X-rays and was replaced by Luis Avilan.


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