WASHINGTON — Nationals ace Max Scherzer was pulled from his start while tuning up for the playoffs after an apparent injury to his right leg, and NL East champion Washington lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1 Saturday night.

The Nationals didn’t immediately provide an update on Scherzer.

Scherzer, who leads the NL in strikeouts and is 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA, was preparing for the Nationals’ matchup against the Chicago Cubs in the best-of-five Division Series that begins Friday in Washington. But the two-time Cy Young Award winner stumbled on a 2-2 pitch to Josh Bell in the fourth inning, briefly hopped around the mound and bent over at the waist.

Scherzer then began to throw a full-count pitch, but abruptly stopped when time was called.

Washington manager Dusty Baker, pitching coach Mike Maddux and team trainers visited the mound and quickly took out Scherzer.

Scherzer had given up one hit and struck out five, raising his total to 268, in 3 1/3 scoreless innings when he was hurt.

The Pirates rallied with four runs in the ninth inning off Brandon Kintzler (2-1). Sean Rodriguez singled home the tying run with Pittsburgh trailing 1-0 and down to its final strike. Max Moroff later hit a bases-loaded triple.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

George Kontos (1-6) got the win and Felipe Rivero had his 21st save.

Ryan Zimmerman hit an RBI single in the second off Jameson Taillon, who gave up four hits in seven innings.