Scherzer struck out 16 batters and carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, when Carlos Gomez swung and the ball took a chip out of his bat before looping agonisingly out of the reach of second baseman Anthony Rendon.
“It’s just one of those things where it fell in,” Scherzer told mlb.com. “There’s nothing you can do.”
Perhaps fittingly, Gomez was the final batter struck out by Scherzer in the ninth inning and the pitcher said: “It takes luck (to get a perfect game). Why would I be disappointed?
“To be able to throw a shutout against a Major League team, that’s extremely tough to do.”
The Nats remain half a game behind National League East leaders the New York Mets, who won 10-8 against the Atlanta Braves.
The Mets trailed 8-3 before home runs from Darrell Ceciliani, Dilson Herrera, Travis d’Arnaud and Juan Lagares swung the game around.
The Los Angeles Dodgers strengthened their hold on the NL West with a 4-2 win over divisional rivals the San Diego Padres in 12 innings. Andre Ethier homered and Adrian Gonzalez drove in the other three runs.
The San Francisco Giants lost 4-0 to the resurgent Arizona Diamondbacks, Rubby de la Rosa pitching eight scoreless frames in his side’s third straight win.
The Colorado Rockies beat the Miami Marlins 4-1.
For the second time in three games, the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0 in extra innings, Josh Harrison with the walk-off single in the 11th.
The Chicago Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 2-1, also in 11 innings, but the scheduled series finale between NL and AL central leaders the St Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals was postponed due to rain.
The Minnesota Twins closed to within 1.5 games of Kansas with a 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers, Eddie Rosario scoring debutant Byron Buxton for the winning run.
The Detroit Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians 8-1 with homers from Miguel Cabrera and JD Martinez.
The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays share the lead of the AL East after wins over the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox respectively.
John Ryan Murphy’s two-run double helped the Yankees to a 5-3 success while Chris Sale had 12 strikeouts in Tampa’s 2-1 win.
Ryan Goins had a homer and five RBIs in the Toronto Blue Jays’ 11th straight win, 13-5 against the Boston Red Sox for whom David Ortiz hit the 475th home run of his career.
The Houston Astros beat the Seattle Mariners 13-0 to move 2.5 games clear of Texas in the AL West, Luis Valbuena and Marwin Gonzalez with homers, while Sonny Gray struck out nine in the Oakland Athletics’ 8-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels.