Nationals top Marlins, win three straight for first time this season
Fifty-three games into the season, the Washington Nationals finally achieved it: three wins in a row. They just had to play the only worse team in the National League to do it.
The Nationals staved off the Miami Marlins 9-6 at home on Sunday afternoon, taking win No. 3 in a four-game series and digging a bit further out of baseball’s cellar despite another near-collapse from the bullpen.
Howie Kendrick finished with three hits, a home run and 3 RBI, and Anthony Rendon and Brian Dozier added 2 RBI apiece for the Nationals (22-31).
In his second start of the year, Erick Fedde pitched five innings of shutout ball with four strikeouts. He got into and out of jams in the third and fifth innings, keeping the Marlins’ runners at bay. One day after Patrick Corbin shut out Miami, the Marlins (16-34) couldn’t score until the eighth inning Sunday.
Kendrick got Washington on the board with a 409-foot solo homer during the second inning. In the third, the Marlins could have escaped without a run if Juan Soto swung for one more strike. Instead, Soto drew three straight balls and walked to extend the inning.
His patience was rewarded when Kendrick followed by driving in two runs on a single and Dozier next hit a deep two-run double off the wall.
Manager Dave Martinez was likely pleased, hours after telling reporters before the game that he and his coaches often remind Soto to let pitchers walk him if they want.
“We’ve got guys behind you that can hit as well,” Martinez said. “Don’t start chasing pitches. I said, ’You’re really good when you stop chasing pitches and you let the ball and the strike zone dictate whether you swing or not.”
A quick downpour in the sixth inning delayed the game for just 24 minutes, and when it resumed, so did the Nationals’ offense. Yan Gomes and pinch-hitter Michael A. Taylor hit back-to-back doubles to lead off, Rendon smacked a two-RBI triple and Soto brought Rendon in on a sacrifice fly to go up 9-0.
The Marlins got together their comeback against the continually vulnerable Washington bullpen. Neil Walker hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning off the recently acquired Javy Guerra. In the ninth, James Bourque made his major league debut a few days after being called up from Double-0A Harrisburg and gave up three runs after managing only two outs.
Wander Suero allowed an inherited runner to come in from second base before finally putting the game to bed.
The Nationals conclude the four-game series on Monday with a 1:05 p.m. start for Memorial Day. Max Scherzer is scheduled to start.