WASHINGTON — During part of the 2012 season, Austin Bibens-Dirkx posted a 5.59 ERA in 29 games, including two starts, for Triple-A Syracuse, the top farm team of the Washington Nationals.
“He was durable. That was his thing,” recalled Tony Beasley, then his manager at Syracuse.
The journeyman right-hander, 32, finally made it to Nationals Park this weekend, and on Sunday he outdueled Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer as the Texas Rangers beat the Washington Nationals 5-1 to sweep the three-game series.
It was the second career start for Bibens-Dirkx, the 278th for Scherzer. Bibens-Dirkx (2-0) allowed one run on three hits in seven innings.
“It means a lot. It took me awhile to get here,” said Bibens-Dirkx, who made his major league debut in May with Texas after nearly 12 years in the minors. “I feel like having a little chip on my shoulder kind of helps. I felt like I could have been here awhile ago.”
Among those watching was Beasley, now the third base coach for the Rangers and a former Nationals coach. Bibens-Dirkx was a minor league teammate with Bryce Harper and had a locker in spring training with the Nationals in 2012 next to Anthony Rendon, who started at third base for Washington on Sunday.
“He has finally got an opportunity with us, and he has made the most of it,” Beasley said of Bibens-Dirkx.
The Rangers produced enough offense to make him a winner. Delino DeShields scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball during a four-run eighth inning.
The last time the Rangers swept a three-game series on the road against a National League team was in June 2016, against the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the first road three-game sweep by the Rangers this season.
Scherzer got the 2,000th strikeout of his career when he fanned Nomar Mazara to lead off the fourth. Scherzer is the third-fastest to reach that mark in terms of innings, behind Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson.
Scherzer (7-4) gave up just three hits and three runs (two earned) with 10 strikeouts and one walk in 7 1/3 innings.
“He gave us all he had,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said of Scherzer. “We had to go get him in the eighth.”
The veteran right-hander turned into a hard-luck loser.
DeShields reached on an error by Rendon with one out in the eighth, and pinch hitter Jurickson Profar walked. That ended the day for Scherzer. Lefty Oliver Perez came on to face Shin-Soo Choo, who walked. With the bases loaded, the Nationals turned to righty reliever Blake Treinen, who came on to face Elvis Andrus.
Baker didn’t want Scherzer, who threw 109 pitches, to face Choo.
“That is his nemesis,” Baker said of the hot-hitting Texas player.
On Treinen’s first pitch, DeShields scored on a passed ball by catcher Matt Wieters to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Andrus followed with a two-run triple to extend his hitting streak to a league-best 15 games and give Texas a 4-1 lead.
Mazara followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-1.
Jose Leclerc and Alex Claudio each pitched a scoreless inning out of the Texas bullpen to nail down the win.
The only run off Bibens-Dirkx was Brian Goodwin’s first-inning leadoff homer that gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead.
“He was changing speeds and throwing his cutter, changeup, slider,” Baker said of the Texas starter, whose fastball stayed in the lows 90s.
Harper, the No. 2 hitter for Washington, followed with a single in the first but was retired as Daniel Murphy grounded into a double play. Bibens-Dirkx then set down the next 18 batters before Rendon hit a two-out single in the seventh.
The Rangers tied the game at 1-1 in the third as Choo (two hits), the leadoff hitter for Texas, hit a solo homer off Scherzer.
“We had to mix a lot and be random,” Lucroy said. “He threw a lot of strikes. We had a game plan. You have to call a pretty unconventional game against them.”
Control artist Bibens-Dirkx began the game with 11 career strikeouts in the majors. By contrast, the hard-throwing Scherzer has fanned at least 11 batters five times this year.
Texas (30-32) won its fourth in a row on the road while the first-place Nationals fell to 38-24.
NOTES: Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (7-2, 2.80 ERA) will face Atlanta RHP Mike Foltynewicz (4-5, 4.38) on Monday in Washington. … Texas RHP Yu Darvish (5-4, 3.18) will pitch Monday at Houston against Astros RHP Joe Musgrove (4-4, 4.89). … Rangers CF Delino DeShields was born in Easton, Md., about 70 miles from Nationals Park. DeShields had two hits in the first two games of the series but was 0-for-4 Sunday. … Washington 1B Ryan Zimmerman, dealing with back issues, did not play for the third time in four games. … The Nationals have scored at least one run in every game this year.