Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. left Saturday's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers because of right elbow discomfort Sandy Koufax Jersey , the team announced.McCullers exited after four innings of shutout baseball, allowing just two hits while striking out five.An All-Star a season ago, McCullers was having another solid season before hitting a rough patch recently. Entering Saturday, he is 0-3 while allowing 14 runs in 13.2 innings over his last three starts.The 24-year-old is 10-6 with a 3.93 ERA in 22 starts in 2018.McCullers is coming off a season in which he helped the Astros win their first-ever World Series championship. He posted a 2.61 ERA in 20.2 innings in five playoff appearances and was the starting pitcher of Game 7 of the 2018 World Series, throwing 2.1 innings of shutout baseball in a 5-1 victory at Dodger Stadium.The right-hander spent all of August on the disabled list while dealing with a back injury.Houston is in a position to be cautious with McCullers. The Astros currently hold a 4.5-game lead over the Oakland Athletics in the American League West and are 6.5 games clear in the wild-card race. While they have by no means run away with a playoff spot, they do have some cushion.Fortunately for Houston, starting pitching is an area of strength. The team's rotation ranks first in all MLB by a wide margin with a 3.02 ERA. That's because it contains former Cy Young award winners Justin Verlander (also a former AL MVP) and Dallas Keuchel as well as two-time All-Star Gerrit Cole. Oh, it also features the winning pitcher of Game 7 of last year's World Series http://www.dodgersfanproshop.com/authentic-yasiel-puig-jersey , Charlie Morton. WASHINGTON (AP) — Max Scherzer is using all his tools to help keep the Nationals‘ playoff hopes alive.Scherzer pitched six scoreless innings, doubled and scored twice as the Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 8-2 on Friday night for his major league-leading 16th win.After throwing seven shutout innings against the Cubs on Sunday only to watch Chicago win on a walk-off grand slam, Scherzer (16-5) left with a 5-0 lead and watched the Nationals thwart a Marlins rally.Scherzer allowed at least one baserunner in four of six innings but worked out of trouble as Washington opened a six-game homestand with little margin for error as it seeks to get back into playoff contention.“They grinded me,” Scherzer said. “There were some spots in the game that could have swung the game the other way, and (Matt) Wieters did a great job behind the plate finding the right pitch to throw at the right time.”Scherzer struck out seven with one walk and is 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA over his last six starts.Ryan Zimmerman and Wieters homered, and Bryce Harper and Adam Eaton had three hits each for Washington, which has won two straight after losing seven of its previous nine.Scherzer, who also reached on a fielders’ choice Hyun-Jin Ryu Jersey , has hit safely in seven of his last eight starts and is batting .296.“I think biggest thing with Max is in big pressure situations … he has the ability to put the ball in play to where you don’t have that kind of strikeout sitting in the nine hole,” Wieters said.Austin Dean homered for his first career hit for the Marlins, who have lost six straight. Miami made two errors and Harper took advantage of center fielder Magneuris Sierra’s tentative play to turn a single into a double.“We should have some pride in what we’re doing out there and I think we’ve showed that through the course of the season for the most part, but here in the recent days it’s just unacceptable in what we’re watching,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.Miami’s Dan Straily (4-6) allowed five runs on nine hits in six innings.Mattingly was ejected in the fourth inning for arguing balls and strikes after Derek Dietrich was called out on a 3-2 pitch that appeared to be outside.The Nationals went ahead 1-0 in the second on Zimmerman’s 10th home run. After Wieters’ solo shot made it 3-0 in the fourth, Scherzer doubled and scored on Eaton’s double.“That’s why I put in the work, run in between days so I can run the bases and pitch,” Scherzer said. “For me Jose Fernandez Jersey , that’s part of the game.”Harper picked up his 500th career RBI with a single in the seventh, and Daniel Murphy extended his hitting streak to 10 games.The Marlins got two runs in the seventh off Trevor Gott, but three relievers held them scoreless for the final 2 1/3 innings.ON APPEALMiami’s Jose Urena is appealing his six-game suspension for intentionally hitting the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. with a pitch. Mattingly didn’t rule out using Urena this weekend against the Nationals.RIDE SHAREThe Nationals introduced their new bullpen cart, which will transport relief pitchers to the front of their respective dugouts before they take the mound. The Nationals are the third team in 2018 to use a bullpen vehicle, joining the Diamondbacks and the Tigers. None of Friday’s relievers rode in the cart.TRAINER’S ROOMMarlins: RHP Kyle Barraclough (lower back stiffness) is scheduled to throw off a mound again on Saturday. … INF Martin Prado (left quad strain) started baseball activity Friday with hitting and throwing.Nationals: Manager Dave Martinez said an MRI on RHP Jeremy Hellickson’s right wrist revealed a “bad sprain” and he’ll go on the disabled list when the team determines the corresponding move. … RHP Stephen Strasburg (cervical nerve impingement) will throw a bullpen session on Saturday.UP NEXTMarlins: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (4-9, 5.32) makes his third start of the season against the Nationals. He’s 0-1 with 6.17 ERA versus Washington in 2018.Nationals: LHP Tommy Milone (1-1, 5.24) opposes the Marlins for the second time this season. He allowed three runs on eight hits in five innings of a no-decision on July 26.