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Nationals fall to the Marlins 7-6 after Scherzer's early exit

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer follows through on a delivery during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI (AP) — Max Scherzer hit his first career homer to help build a six-run lead, but he pitched only one inning before departing with a neck spasm, and the Miami Marlins rallied to beat the Washington Nationals 7-6 Tuesday.

Scherzer slept funny and left the game as a precaution, the Nationals said.

The Marlins took the lead with a four-run fifth inning. Marcell Ozuna hit a three-run homer off Matt Albers (5-2), and Derek Dietrich's RBI triple put Miami ahead 7-6.

Six pitchers combined to blank Washington over the final 7 2/3 innings. Dustin McGowan (7-1) pitched two scoreless innings during Miami's comeback.

Brad Ziegler, promoted to closer after A.J. Ramos was traded last week, pitched the ninth and worked around a pair of two-out singles for his 86th career save and first this year. Ryan Zimmerman grounded out to end the game.

Scherzer pitched a 1-2-3 first inning, and in the top of the second he hit a three-run homer. He went to the mound for the bottom of the inning, but after throwing a wild warmup pitch, he walked off pointing to his neck and shaking his head.

Manager Dusty Baker came out of the dugout to meet Scherzer, who said, "I can't go." He left with the Nationals leading 6-0, thanks partly to Howie Kendrick's first homer since being acquired Friday by Washington.

Kendrick went 5 for 5.

Scherzer pulled an 0-2 off-speed pitch into the first row in left field, and Baker laughed as he watched his ace circle the bases. When Scherzer returned to the dugout, teammates gave him the silent treatment, so he high-fived the air before being mobbed with congratulations.

But for the Nationals, the game wasn't a laugher for long.

The second-place Marlins still trail the NL East-leading Nationals by 13 games. Injury-plagued Miami took another hit with the announcement that opening day starter Edinson Volquez will undergo Tommy John surgery Friday.

EN ROUTE

Former Minnesota Twins All-Star right-hander Brandon Kintzler, acquired by the Nationals in a trade Monday, is expected to join them Wednesday. He's the third reliever obtained by the team since mid-July.

UP NEXT

The Nationals are expected to recall a pitcher from the minors to start Wednesday's series finale against RHP Vance Worley (0-2, 6.42).

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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