Marlins end 4-game skid, top Nats 3-2 but fire hitting coach
MIAMI (AP) — The first run came home on an error. The lead was seized with a bases-loaded walk, and a hit batsman scored the other run.
It was an offensive outburst, Marlins-style.
Even in victory, Miami’s offense was so unimpressive that afterward Mike Pagliarulo was fired as hitting coach.
The Marlins’ feeble attack mustered only six hits but manufactured just enough for them to break a four-game losing streak and beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 Friday.
“It’s a lot closer to what we need to be,” manager Don Mattingly said. “We’re going to have to scratch for runs. There was no big explosion.”
Miami, last in the majors in runs, went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position. But pinch-hitter Martin Prado’s bases-loaded walk in the sixth put the Marlins ahead for the first time since Saturday, and they won after being shut out in the past two games.
Those losses sealed the fate of Pagliarulo, who had been with the team since 2017. Assistant hitting coach Jeff Livesey was promoted to interim head hitting coach, and Eric Duncan was named assistant hitting coach.
“You look at the makeup of our club, and we feel like we can do better,” president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “Our offensive approach — we’re an easy team to pitch to. We didn’t get the feeling we were making the necessary adjustments and battling and fighting the way we know this team is capable of. We felt like it was time for a new voice.”
Benefiting from the rare run support was Caleb Smith (2-0), who struck out eight and allowed one run in six innings. He won his second start in a row and lowered his ERA to 2.35.
Three relievers completed a six-hitter. Sergio Romo pitched a perfect ninth for his second save, and his first since March 31 as Miami (5-15) won a series opener for the first time.
“Every team has a chance to beat you,” Nationals second baseman Brian Dozier said. “That was a showing of that tonight.”
Dozier’s second homer of the season wasn’t enough for Washington. Teammate Anthony Rendon doubled to extend his hitting streak to 17 games, longest in the majors this year.
Anibal Sanchez (0-2) allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
The Marlins took the lead in the sixth, and they had help. With the score 1-all and runners at second and third, Sanchez fielded Rosell Herrera’s bunt and threw home while the runners held, which loaded the bases.
Sanchez walked Prado on a 3-1 pitch to make the score 2-1. Reliever Matt Grace’s first pitch hit Curtis Granderson in the hip, bringing in another run.
“They did enough to win,” Sanchez said.
The Marlins ended a streak of 24 consecutive scoreless innings when they broke through in the second, and again they had help. An error by first baseman Ryan Zimmerman allowed a runner to come home from third.
Washington scratched out a run in the first. Adam Eaton led off with a bunt single, took second on a wild pitch and came home on Juan Soto’s single.
Smith retired 15 of the final 18 batters he faced.
“Once I get settled in, it’s hard to get me off my rhythm,” he said.
Before the game, the Nationals placed RHP Austen Williams (sprained right AC joint) on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Thursday, and recalled RHP Austin Adams from Triple-A Fresno.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (1-2, 3.33), who is scheduled to start Saturday, won all five of his starts last year against Miami with a 2.38 ERA. In 19 career starts against the Marlins, Scherzer is 12-3 with a 2.98 ERA.
Marlins: RHP Jose Urena (0-3, 6.53) went 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA in three starts against Washington last year.
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