Nats use long ball, bench to take opener vs. Marlins

Greg Fiume/Getty Images 

Trailing 2-0 the Nats used three home runs in three innings, the sixth, seventh, and eighth, to take the weekend series opener over the Marlins 5-3 on Friday the 13th at Nationals Park.

Gio Gonzalez took the ball for the Nationals and he looked much better than he did in his previous outing in Chicago.  He went six innings striking out seven while giving up six hits and was charged with zero earned runs.  He was pulled in the sixth inning as the bases were loaded with no outs.

Miami broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fifth inning. With runners on first and second with Miguel Rojas up, he hit a ground ball to second baseman Daniel Murphy.  Murphy fielded the ball and threw it to Gonzalez, who was covering first, but the ball went past him and both runners scored as the Marlins took a 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the sixth Jose Lobaton got on base and Stephen Drew came up to pinch hit for relief pitcher Oliver Perez.  Drew took a 2-1 pitch over the right-centerfield wall to tie the game at 2.

In the bottom of the seventh the Nats took the lead.  After Anthony Rendon led off with a walk, Bryce Harper came up to the plate.  If the Marlins elected to walk Harper, who walked twice already, they would’ve had to face Murphy with two runners on.  So they pitched to Harper and they paid the price.  Harper launched a two run homer to right-center to give the Nationals a 4-2 lead.

The Marlins scored in the top of the eighth to make it a 4-3 game so the Nats looked to get an insurance run in the bottom frame.  They got it from their bench.  Chris Heisey came in to pinch hit with two outs and he hit a solo shot to put Washington up 5-3.

Felipe Rivero and Jonathan Papelbon shut the door in the ninth as Washington took game one of the four game weekend series 5-3.  Papelbon got the save, his 10th of the season.  Gonzalez had a no decision.  Blake Treinen was credited with the win.  He pitched the seventh and eighth innings allowing one run on two hits with one strikeout.

Nats manager Dusty Baker credited the bench for coming up big tonight.  It was the first time in franchise history that two pinch hitters homered in a game.

“It’s especially nice when they hit home runs.  The (first pinch hit) home run tied the game and the home run by Heisey gave us an insurance run.  That was big,” said Baker.  “Your bench is very important.  You want some production off your guys on the bench and that’s why you try to give them some at bats and some action so that they feel more comfortable.  These guys work hard, they hit a lot, and they have a lot of pride coming off the bench and they’re proud of what they’re doing as a unit.  That’s very important that they feel good about themselves and the guys on the team feel good about them.”

The Nationals and Marlins continue their four games in three days series with a day/night doubleheader on Saturday.  Game one features a pitching matchup of Stephen Strasburg for the Nationals against Justin Nicolino and the Marlins.  First pitch is at 1:05 p.m.  The nightcap will feature Tanner Roark for Washington against Kendry Flores and Miami.  First pitch for game two is at 7:05 p.m.




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