LOS ANGELES — Max Scherzer had been anticipating his 3,000th career strikeout. He had his family on hand, and Los Angeles Dodgers fans knew it was coming.
As if that wasn't enough history for one day, he nearly threw a perfect game, too.
Scherzer got his milestone and took a perfect game into the eighth inning Sunday as the Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 8-0 to complete a three-game sweep.
"In the fifth or sixth, I realized I had something going there," he said. "Once I was able to get through the sixth, I was like, 'I got a chance to do this.'"
Alas, it wasn't to be.
Scherzer retired his first 22 batters, including Fernando Tatis Jr., just before Eric Hosmer doubled to deep right with one out in the eighth. The crowd of 42,637, including his wife, three children and parents, saluted Scherzer with a standing ovation after he finished the inning, his second ovation of the day.
"I knew Tatis and Hosmer were going to be tough at-bats," Scherzer said. "Hosmer, we've done so many battles over the years. I pulled a changeup down and he was able to put a barrel to it."
Scherzer reached 3,000 career strikeouts in the fifth when Hosmer went down swinging for the second out of the inning. The crowd roared long and loud for the 37-year-old All-Star, who doffed his cap and threw the historic ball toward the dugout.
"To me, this is a testament to durability," Scherzer said. "Making my 30-plus starts a year, year in and year out. All the hard work I've put in to be able to have this moment is what feels good."
Scherzer struck out nine overall on 92 pitches in eight innings in recording his 10th straight win.
"I love strikeouts because the ball's not in play," he said. "They can't get a hit when the ball's not in play. When the ball's in play, anything can happen."
The three-time Cy Young Award winner threw an immaculate inning in the second with three strikeouts on nine pitches.
"When he got one strikeout away, guys started swinging earlier because they didn't want to be the 3,000th," teammate Mookie Betts said. "I don't blame them."
Scherzer has tossed 292/3 innings without allowing an earned run and is 6-0 in eight games with an 0.88 ERA since joining the Dodgers at the July trade deadline.
He leads the majors with a 2.17 ERA.
"It's just kind of amazing to watch greatness," Betts said. "You really appreciate the best of the best when you get to see it every day."
The Dodgers remained 21/2 games behind the N.L West-leading San Francisco Giants.
Scherzer has two career no-hitters — both in 2015. He completed 82/3 perfect innings in the first one before Pirates batter Jose Tbata appeared to lean into a pitch but was still awarded first base.
The only Dodgers pitcher to throw a perfect game was Sandy Koufax on Sept. 9, 1965, against the Chicago Cubs.