LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles hurler Max Scherzer flirted with perfection Sunday as he became the 19th Major League Baseball pitcher to record 3,000 career strikeouts in the Dodgers 8-0 victory over the San Diego Padres.
Scherzer, 37, reached the 3,000 strikeout milestone when he fanned Eric Hosmer on a full-count changeup for the second out of the fifth inning.
But it would be Hosmer who broke up Scherzer's bid for a rare perfect game with one out in the eighth inning. Hosmer belted a changeup to the rightfield warning track -- out of the reach of speedy outfielder Mookie Betts -- for a double.
That ended Scherzer's bid for MLB's first perfect game since Seattle's Felix Hernandez threw the 23rd perfecto on August 15, 2012.
The nine-year drought without a perfect game -- in which a pitcher retires every batter he faces -- is the longest in the major leagues since the dry spell from 1968-1981.
But Scherzer had plenty to celebrate even without a perfect game or the third no-hitter of his career.
He joined former teammate Justin Verlander as the only active pitchers to reach 3,000 strikeouts.
He needed just 66 pitches to record six perfect innings -- that included striking out the side on nine pitches in the second for the third "immaculate inning" of his career.
"It's hard to describe the emotion," said Scherzer, who was able to celebrate his strikeout milestone with his wife and small children as well as his parents at Dodger Stadium -- which he has called home only since a July 30 trade from the Washington Nationals.
"To me this is a testament to durability, to me going out there making my 30-plus starts a year, year-in, year-out."
Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, is now in the hunt for a fourth award for the league's top pitcher.
He is 6-0 in eight starts as a Dodger with a 0.88 earned run average and 71 strikeouts in 51 innings.
His ERA for the season is a major league-leading 2.17, a smidge in front of Milwaukee's Corbin Burnes (2.25) and Dodgers teammate Walker Buehler (2.32).
© Agence France-Presse