Dodgers’ Max Scherzer gets 3,000th K, near perfect game

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Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Max Scherzer throws during the third inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday, Sept. 6, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Max Scherzer of the Los Angeles Dodgers became the 19th player in major league history with 3,000 strikeouts and nearly completed a perfect game Sunday.

The 37-year-old right-hander fanned Eric Hosmer of the San Diego Padres in the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium for the historic strikeout, which came three innings after he threw the third immaculate inning of his career.

The crowd gave the three-time Cy Young Award winner a standing ovation, and Scherzer doffed his cap. He threw the keepsake ball into the dugout. Hosmer went down on six pitches, retired on a swinging strike.

Scherzer lost his perfect game when Hosmer lined a clean double into the right field corner with one out in the eighth inning. Scherzer has thrown two no-hitters in his 14-year career — both in 2015. He completed 8 2/3 perfect innings in the first before the Pirates’ Jose Tábata appeared to lean into a pitch but was awarded first base.

It took Scherzer 404 games to get 3,000 strikeouts, second fewest in history behind Hall of Famer Randy Johnson at 362 games, per Elias. He’s also the first to reach the markin a Dodgers uniform.

Knowing Scherzer needed one more strikeout, fans got to their feet and cheered each time he had two strikes on a batter. Some held up cell phones to record the moment.

Scherzer came into the game needing six strikeouts to reach 3,000. He got Trent Grisham in the first. He struck out the side on nine pitches in the second, retiring Fernando Tatis Jr., Hosmer and Tommy Pham, who all went down swinging.

In the third, Scherzer struck out Wil Myers on five pitches.

Scherzer is 13 strikeouts from catching Houston’s Justin Verlander for the most among active players. Verlander — a teammate of Scherzer’s in Detroit — is missing the entire 2021 season following Tommy John surgery.

Scherzer is 13-4, and his 2.28 ERA was second in the National League behind Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes entering Sunday. He was acquired from the Washington Nationals in July and put himself in contention for a fourth Cy Young down the stretch for the Dodgers.

He is on a nine-game winning streak and hasn’t lost since May 30 against Milwaukee. He is 9-0 in his last 15 starts since June 4, going 9-0 with a 2.23 ERA. Four of those wins have come with the Dodgers.

Scherzer was drafted by Arizona in 2006 out of Missouri. He has pitched for the Diamondbacks, Detroit and Washington, and is a combined 188-97 with a 3.15 ERA in his career.

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