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Nats 5, Marlins 2: Moore, Harper homer in victory

Sep 19, 2015, 6:51 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: For the third straight day, the Nationals dug themselves into a 2-0 hole against the Marlins after one inning. But for the second straight day, they managed to dig themselves back out of that hole and emerge victorious.

With a 3-run rally in the fifth that included a home run by Tyler Moore and clutch at-bats by Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond, the Nationals took the lead off Marlins starter Brad Hand. Then with a 2-run homer by Harper (his 41st of the season) in the seventh, they expanded that lead and gave their bullpen some cushion.

It looked like that relief corps might need the extra cushion after rookie Sammy Solis gave up two singles to open the eighth. But Blake Treinen bailed him out by inducing a double-play grounder and then striking out Derek Dietrich to quash that potential rally. Jonathan Papelbon gave up a couple of singles to open the ninth but bounced back from two straight blown saves to finish this one off.

And thanks to the Mets’ loss earlier in the afternoon, the Nationals closed to within 7 games of the NL East leaders, with 14 to play.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Harper’s seventh-inning homer will get the most attention, and it certainly deserves it. But his fifth-inning at-bat might’ve been more important. At the plate with the bases loaded, 1 out and the Nationals trailing by a run, he battled Hand through a 10-pitch showdown that included five foul balls with two strikes, multiple uses of the rosin bag and a new bat after the first one broke. Harper wound up sending a sacrifice fly to right, bringing home the tying run. No, it wasn’t as glamorous as a home run into the second deck, but it was no less significant.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Things didn’t look good for Zimmermann four batters in; he gave up three hits and found himself down 2-0 just like that. But the right-hander found his groove over the course of the afternoon and kept the Marlins from scoring again after that. He wound up retiring the last seven batters he faced, four of them via strikeout. With his pitch count at 95 after six innings, he probably could have remained in the game. But Matt Williams decided to send up pinch-hitter Matt den Dekker in his spot and turn to his bullpen the rest of the way.

KEY STAT: Over the last two seasons, Brad Hand is 0-6 with a 7.84 ERA in seven starts against the Nationals.

UP NEXT: The series wraps up at 1:35 p.m. Sunday when Stephen Strasburg (coming off a 14-strikeout start in Philadelphia) looks to stay hot against Marlins lefty Justin Nicolino.

  1. Drew - Sep 19, 2015 at 6:53 PM

    4 to reach 100 at 22.

    659 from Henry Aaron.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Sep 19, 2015 at 8:45 PM

      Didn’t think it could happen (as of a week ago), but now I’m hopeful. In which case, maybe I should go back to thinking it can’t happen.

      • jfmii - Sep 19, 2015 at 10:00 PM

        Not gonna happen but glad they are pushing

      • Section 222 - Sep 19, 2015 at 10:25 PM

        jfm, you really don’t think Bryce can hit 4 HRs in the next 14 games? He’s hit 8 in the last 14.

      • jfmii - Sep 19, 2015 at 10:34 PM

        Sorry, I thought Eugene was talking about overtaking the Mets.

    • Section 222 - Sep 19, 2015 at 8:47 PM

      This is truly phenomenal. I remember when you started this count, and even after it was clear he was having a great season, I thought, “no way he gets to 100,” Well, silly me — he just might do it. Unbelievable. And when he does, you should take a victory lap. Thanks for keeping us posted.

  2. donniebenth - Sep 19, 2015 at 7:01 PM

    4 games back with 11 to play

  3. natsfan1a - Sep 19, 2015 at 7:04 PM

    Atta way, boys, atta way.

    Not to nit-pick on Bryce’s great AB in the 5th, but wasn’t it a sac fly by Harper and then a Desi walk?

  4. Jason - Sep 19, 2015 at 7:05 PM

    Harper didn’t draw a walk he hit a fly ball to the outfield which allowed Zimmerman to score.

    • natsjackinfl - Sep 19, 2015 at 7:57 PM

      Right. Desmond walked to drive in a run. Bryce drove in his runs on a sac fly and the home run.

  5. patrickthand - Sep 19, 2015 at 8:15 PM

    If Nats go 11-3 and Mets 4-10, they tie for the division title. The Pirates are10.5 up in on the Natd in the Wild Card race, but are in a tailspin and 9 of their remaining 15 games are against the Dodgers, Cubs and Cardinals. It’s a long long shot, but the Nats still have a postseason pulse.

    • wvpastorphil - Sep 19, 2015 at 8:37 PM

      You are a REAL fan. Me too!

  6. naterialguy - Sep 19, 2015 at 8:40 PM

    AnOther beAutiful day at the ball park.
    “Keep hope alive”

  7. Section 222 - Sep 19, 2015 at 10:29 PM

    Bryce’s numbers in the 16 games in September: .420/.552/.980/1.532, 8 HR, 13 RBI, and 16 BBs. Mercy!

    • jfmii - Sep 19, 2015 at 10:35 PM

      Crazy beautiful

    • Section 222 - Sep 19, 2015 at 10:36 PM

      Sorry. Those numbers do not include today’s game. He only went 1 for 3 today, so his average and OBP went down! But he had a HR and 3 RBIs today.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
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