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Nats 7, Marlins 4: Nationals start slow, rebound for series win

Aug 30, 2015, 4:42 PM EDT

USA Today

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals came out flat on Sunday afternoon against the Marlins and went down early as Stephen Strasburg ran into trouble in the first inning. For the first half of the afternoon, it looked like they were going to stumble their way into St. Louis for a big series beginning on Monday.

But in the fifth inning they woke up, both at the plate and on the mound, and came away with a convincing 7-4 victory over the Marlins, one that handed them their fourth consecutive series win, something they had not done since May 27.

Strasburg was ineffective from the start, but the Nats bullpen pitched well after taking over in the fifth. Doug Fister gave them two scoreless innings before Felipe Rivero, Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon closed out the final three frames.

Jayson Werth and Clint Robinson homered. Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper had RBI singles. Werth also had an RBI double.

Desmond went 1-for-1 with three walks. That was just the second time in his career he’s walked three times in a game (July 22, 2011). He walked only three times in the entire month of June.

Michael Taylor started for the first time since leaving Thursday’s game with a right knee contusion. He went 2-for-4 with two runs. He also added a very nice catch in center field to end the top of the sixth, one that again put him in close proximity to the wall. This time, however, he avoided hard contact and slowed up at the warning track.

The win moved the Nats to 66-63 on the season and gave them their sixth victory in their last eight games. The Mets also won, though, so the Nationals did not gain any ground in the NL East. The deficit remains at 5 1/2 games.

The Nationals finished this homestand 6-3 against the Brewers, Padres and Marlins. That is a marked improvement from the 3-4 they went against the Diamondbacks and Rockies the last time they were in Washington (Aug. 3-9).

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The fifth inning represented a breakthrough for the Nats after a tough first half to the game that saw Strasburg pitch terribly and their offense struggle against Marlins’ starter Brad Hand.

It all started with a bloop single to center field by Taylor. Doug Fister then bunted Taylor to second before Werth drilled a double to the corner in left field. That made it a 4-3 game.

Harper scored Werth two at-bats later on a single to left field. And two at-bats after that, Desmond singled to center field to make it 5-4 Nats.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Strasburg had been dominant since he returned from the disabled list on Aug. 8 and over the last few weeks was the Nationals’ most reliable pitcher by a longshot. But that trend did not continue on Sunday, as the right-hander labored through four innings and was removed after only 60 pitches thrown.

Strasburg ran into trouble early with two baserunners before he even recorded an out in the first inning. Those were Dee Gordon, who bunted, and Ichiro Suzuki, who doubled. Both were then brought home on a three-run homer by Juston Bour. Bour homered in consecutive days and for the eighth time in 14 career games against the Nats.

Strasburg also allowed a homer to Derek Dietrich in the fourth inning. He finished with seven hits, no walks and three strikeouts in four innings. It was Strasburg’s shortest outing since he was removed due to injury on July 4.

KEY STAT: Werth is now 13-for-40 with five doubles, two homers, seven RBI and six walks in 10 games hitting in the leadoff spot this season.

UP NEXT: The Nationals travel to St. Louis to take on the MLB-best St. Louis Cardinals. The first game will pit Gio Gonzalez (9-7, 4.11) against John Lackey (11-8, 2.92). Needless to say, it will be a big three days for the Nats.

  1. Drew - Aug 30, 2015 at 4:47 PM

    If the Nats can somehow win Monday in St. Louis, they will finish August 13-16.

    That means it’s been a weak month, but not a disaster.

    It would mean it’s not even the worst month of the season. The Nats were 11-15 in April.

    • npb99 - Aug 30, 2015 at 4:53 PM

      Which mean that if they lose, it will be the worst month of the season at 12-17. Either way, calling August 2015 anything other than a disaster for the Nats requires a sunnier disposition than I have.

      • Drew - Aug 30, 2015 at 5:09 PM

        I don’t think 13-16 would be a disastrous month.

        It just feels like it because of the darn Mets’ 19-8 month with one left against the Phillies.

  2. jfmii - Aug 30, 2015 at 4:54 PM

    Will be a drag if Stras is hurt again

    • Eugene in Oregon - Aug 30, 2015 at 5:05 PM

      Was there some indication of that? I don’t see it mentioned in the gamer (above). [Wasn’t able to watch.]

      • Drew - Aug 30, 2015 at 5:14 PM

        He was pulled mid-game, with more back tightness. In the post game, Strasburg said it’s chronic and feels like “a little ball” that affects what’s around it.

        He hopes to grind it out and get it fixed in the offseason.

      • jfmii - Aug 30, 2015 at 5:15 PM

        I picked up the telecast in the 6th; thought I heard FP say something to the effect that it looked like like something wasn’t right. Might’ve said opposite and my old ears heard wrong. If nothing wrong , glad to see the quick hook if it wasn’t working

      • jfmii - Aug 30, 2015 at 5:15 PM

        If nothing wrong physically that is

  3. jfmii - Aug 30, 2015 at 5:39 PM

    Thanks Drew

  4. natsjackinfl - Aug 30, 2015 at 6:10 PM

    I can’t remember the last time the Nats were 3 games over .500. That’s kinda sad.

    But then there are alot of things that happened yesterday that I can’t remember.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 30, 2015 at 6:40 PM

      I had to look up when it was that Werth had 3 RBI’s in a game. May 13th, a couple of days before he took the pitch off his wrist. I haven’t looked up his stats since he moved to the leadoff spot, but I’d bet that they are fairly decent.

    • natsfan1a - Aug 30, 2015 at 7:38 PM

      You can remember some of what happened yesterday? Heck, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast today.

  5. alexva6 - Aug 30, 2015 at 7:26 PM

    you have to be encouraged by the hitters, Werth, Rendon, Zimm, Robinson, Taylor, Desmond, Ramos and even denDecker swinging well. it can be done

  6. natsfan1a - Aug 30, 2015 at 7:38 PM

    I am encouraged by the hitters. Nice win boys, very nice.

  7. mdmcommish - Aug 30, 2015 at 8:30 PM

    I am rudderless without Ghost. Anybody know where he is?

  8. therealjohnc - Aug 30, 2015 at 9:17 PM

    A game where the Nats showed mental toughness and skill in battling back from a 3 run deficit and overcoming an apparent injury to their pitcher.

    Hm. This game will immediately be forgotten, because it doesn’t fit the narrative of an uncaring, uninspired, dispirited clock punching team.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Aug 31, 2015 at 12:14 AM

      The good news: a lot of the narrative-istas have taken a powder lately, since their food source dried up.

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