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DET@NYM: Scherzer strikes out 11, knocks RBI double

NEW YORK -- Max Scherzer wore a wide smile as he spoke in front of his locker. Teammates tossed jokes around, teasing their starter about his performance on Saturday. Scherzer said he was sending text messages out about his latest accomplishment.

It had nothing to do with his stellar work on the mound in the Tigers' 3-0 win over the Mets at Citi Field.

With one out in the second inning, Scherzer laced a 96-mph fastball from Mets ace Matt Harvey into the gap in left-center field for an RBI double to give the Tigers an early lead.

"They were going nuts. They were laughing so hard," Scherzer said of his teammates. "They're laughing at me because I got the hit, but they also realized it was an important part of the game to get a hit in that situation."

On the mound, Scherzer threw another gem. Scherzer allowed three hits over six scoreless innings. While he walked four batters for the first time this season, he struck out 11.

Some long at-bats, including a 12-pitch battle with Juan Lagares that resulted in a walk, ran up Scherzer's pitch count, and the right-hander departed the game after throwing 118 pitches.

But with the victory, Scherzer is 19-1. He's the third pitcher in Major League history to win 19 of his first 20 decisions, joining Rube Marquard (1912) and Roger Clemens (2001).

"For me, every time I go out, I seem to pitch well. More importantly, our defense makes plays behind us," Scherzer said. "We always seem to get the big hit. Everybody through the lineup plays well every time I take the mound, and that's the reason I'm 19-1 -- not because I'm pitching well, but because everyone else is stepping up and doing their job."

On Saturday, Scherzer represented one half of a historic pitching matchup. The other half stood in the form of Harvey. For the first time, a pair of All-Star Game starters opposed each other in the same regular season.

Harvey, though, couldn't match Scherzer.

The Tigers jumped on Harvey, who allowed a career-high 13 hits over 6 2/3 innings, quickly. Omar Infante and Miguel Cabrera hit back-to-back singles in the first inning, but Harvey managed to retire the next two batters to escape trouble.

But he couldn't do the same in the second.

Andy Dirks led off with a double, and Brayan Pena singled. Two batters later, in his first plate appearance of the season, Scherzer came through with his double. It was Scherzer's first hit since 2009, when he was pitching for Arizona.

Austin Jackson then drove in Pena with a single to make it 2-0. The Tigers tacked on another on a sacrifice fly by Don Kelly in the ninth inning.

"I thought the hitters did a good job of executing, because you know Harvey's going to attack. That's what he's going to do," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "We just tried to counterattack. We tried to be aggressive and attack back. We did enough -- it wasn't like we did a lot."

After allowing a leadoff single to Ike Davis in the second, Scherzer retired the next eight batters he faced. Seven of those outs came on strikeouts.

Scherzer ran into trouble in the sixth inning. Still, he never broke completely.

"If you get a strike, you've got to put a swing on it. Because against guys like Max Scherzer, you're not going to get many of them," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "You're not going to get many good pitches to hit. When you get a good one, you better swing at it."

Daniel Murphy led off the frame with a single, and Davis doubled two hitters later. Scherzer walked Wilmer Flores to load the bases with one out. With his pitch count past 100, Scherzer seemed to be losing effectiveness.

But he found it again in the biggest spot of the game. Scherzer struck out Lagares, and induced a popout by John Buck to work out of the bases-loaded jam.

"I pitched well today, but I didn't pitch efficiently," Scherzer said. "There were too many times where I was pitching deep into a count, leading myself to 3-2, issued four walks and that's something that always frustrates me. Throughout the game, I continued to make good pitches when I needed to. I made big pitches there in the sixth."

Jose Alvarez, Jose Veras and Joaquin Benoit combined for three scoreless innings in relief.

Scherzer started the game as half of history, but finished it with his own historic accomplishment of becoming 19-1.

And that doesn't even account for his production at the plate.

"Max played the game himself," Torii Hunter said. "He pitched, he hit. He's the modern-day Babe Ruth."

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