WASHINGTON — Before tensions rose after Jonathan Papelbon's ejection for plunking Manny Machado, Washington Nationals starter Max Scherzer felt no outrage over his own duel with the Baltimore Orioles third baseman.
Machado hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh to give Baltimore a 4-3 victory over Washington on Wednesday night, and Scherzer could only lament that his 98 mph fastball wasn't good enough.
"I'm not going to beat myself up," Scherzer said. "This isn't one of those outings where you sit there and kick a chair or anything. You just collect yourself and learn from it and just try to figure the game out a little bit better."
Scherzer (12-12), who has not won at home since throwing a no-hitter against Pittsburgh on June 20, allowed all four runs over 6 2-3 innings on a season-high 122 pitches, as the Nationals remained 6 ½ games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets.
Two innings after his exit, Papelbon's second high-and-tight fastball of the at-bat hit Machado's upper arm, drawing an immediate ejection from plate umpire Mark Ripperger.
Nationals manager Matt Williams and Papelbon thought Rippenger's decision came too quickly, and Williams said he didn't see intent.
Washington's closer did not explicitly say the pitch was unintentional.
"Perception is reality," Papelbon said. "If Manny thinks I hit him, then that's what he thinks. I'm not going to sit here and go back forth whether I did or whether I didn't, because it doesn't matter. If he thinks I did, that's what he thinks."
Yunel Escobar had two hits and an RBI for the Nationals, including a single in the bottom of the first that made it 2-1.
Wilson Ramos' RBI double and Anthony Rendon's sacrifice fly put Washington ahead 3-2 in the fifth off Chris Tillman (10-11)
Scherzer gave up seven hits while striking out 12 and walking two. He has 249 strikeouts on the season, and set a Nationals (2005-present) record, surpassing Stephen Strasburg's 242 in 2014.
With Machado batting and two outs in the seventh, he got ahead 1-2 in the count on a slider before missing with a 97 mph fastball to even the count.
Machado lined his next pitch, one with even more velocity, into the seats in left center for his 30th homer.
"For me, I thought my fastball was my best pitch," Scherzer said. "I thought I could reach back and not necessarily get a strikeout, but get some weak contact and find a way to collect an out in that situation. Unfortunately he put a good swing on it."
Steve Pearce had a two-run homer and a double for the Orioles, who moved within four games of the final AL wild card spot. Darren O'Day pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
Williams said he didn't like Harper's decision to attempt to bunt leading off the bottom of the seventh against reliever Mychal Givens.
"We need a double there," Williams said. "They're shifting him. We've talked numerous times about it. He did it twice (this series). I want him swinging him the bat."
Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman (oblique) has been taking light swings, but remains day-to-day. "When he goes out there and plays we want him to be able to let it go, so he's got to get to that point first," Williams said.
Baltimore RHP Tyler Wilson (2-2, 3.72) pitches the series finale, making his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk. Wilson allowed six runs in 4 1-3 innings of a loss to Tampa Bay last Friday. He will be opposed by RHP Tanner Roark (4-6, 4.73), who lost his last two starts, both against the Marlins.