Washington right-hander Max Scherzer struck out 10 in six scoreless innings and Bryce Harper had a pair of singles in the Nationals’ 2-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the season opener for both teams at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on Friday.
Scherzer, the two-time defending National League Cy Young Award winner, gave up five hits and walked one while improving to 3-1 in five career starts against the Reds.
Scherzer struck out seven in a row after Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett doubled to lead off the second inning. Scherzer has at least 10 strikeouts in his three most recent appearances against the Reds, two last season. He has given up one run in his last 20 innings against Cincinnati.
The Nationals scored in the first inning after Adam Eaton singled to open the game and took third on Harper’s one-out single. Ryan Zimmerman grounded to third baseman Eugenio Suarez, whose throw to second forced Harper, but the Reds could not complete the double play as Eaton scored for a 1-0 lead.
Nationals outfielder Michael A. Taylor beat out a bunt single to open the ninth inning, stole second, took third on a groundout and scored on Brian Goodwin’s sacrifice fly to left field to make it 2-0.
Cleanup hitter Gennett had four of the Reds’ seven hits, including a double — their only extra-base hit.
Left-hander Sean Doolittle pitched around a two-out walk in the ninth inning for the save.
The Reds got two runners as far as third base against Scherzer but could not push across a run in support of right-hander Homer Bailey, who gave up one run in six innings in the first Opening Day start of his career.
Bailey gave up four hits and three walks while striking out three.
Gennett and Scott Schebler hit back-to-back singles with two outs in the fourth inning and Schebler stole second before Scherzer struck out Tucker Barnhart. Bailey singled and Jesse Winker had a two-out walk in the fifth inning before Suarez flew out to end the inning.
Joey Votto and Gennett singled with two outs in the eighth inning against right-hander Ryan Madson before Schebler grounded out to end the inning.
—Field Level Media