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Scherzer outduels Lester, Nats blank Cubs

May 28, 2015 - 5:48 AM Chicago, IL ( - Max Scherzer outdueled Jon Lester, Bryce Harper smacked a solo homer and the Washington Nationals blanked the Chicago Cubs 3-0 in the rubber match of a three-game set.

Scherzer (6-3) and Lester (4-3), two of the most coveted free agents this past offseason, combined to strike out 23 batters.

Scherzer fanned 13, scattered five hits and walked just one over seven shutout innings, while Lester surrendered two runs -- one earned -- on seven hits and two walks to go with 10 punchouts over seven frames.

The two aces signed with their new clubs for a combined 13 years and $365 million. Both had four wins in May coming in.

Harper's homer was the 13th in his last 19 games.

Danny Espinosa hit a solo shot and Ian Desmond posted three hits for the Nationals, who have won nine of their last 11 games.

Drew Storen blanked the Cubs in the ninth for his 16th save of the season.

Chicago has dropped four of its last six contests.

"Obviously Max threw the ball just a little bit better than I did," Lester said. "It was fun, though."

The Nationals opened the scoring in the fourth inning and added another run in the sixth.

Yunel Escobar led off the fourth with a single and Harper worked a walk to put runners on first and second. Ryan Zimmerman then bounced one to Starlin Castro at shortstop for a potential 6-4-3 double play, but Addison Russell's relay throw bounced past Anthony Rizzo at first. Escobar scored from second on the play.

Harper sliced his solo shot into the seats in left center to begin the sixth and make it 2-0.

"I've seen a lot of great hitters, played with some really, really good ones, and the best ones are able to go opposite field with power," Scherzer said of Harper.

The pinch-hitter Espinosa got the green light on a 3-0 fastball with one out in the ninth and cracked his solo blast over the wall in left to extend Washington's margin to 3-0.

Game Notes

Harper's homer was his 18th of the season ... Lester struggled to an 0-2 mark and 6.23 ERA over four starts in April, but had gone 4-0 in five May outings with a 1.85 ERA heading in ... Scherzer's ERA dipped to 1.51 on the year ... Washington was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10.