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Utilizing bullpen, Nationals battle it out with the Marlins

Utilizing bullpen, Nationals battle it out with the Marlins

WASHINGTON -- Max Scherzer pitched seven sharp innings in his first start since he was sidelined by neck spasms, and the Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 3-2 on Monday night.

Bryce Harper homered for Washington, and pinch hitter Adam Lind singled in the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning. The Nationals expanded their lead in the NL East over second-place Miami to 14 games.

Wilmer Difo led off the eighth with a single off Jarlin Garcia (0-2). He reached second on a bunt and, with two outs, Lind delivered a single up the middle.

It was Lind's 13th pinch hit of the season, and his 10th RBI in that role.

Brandon Kintzler (4-2) worked the eighth and Sean Doolittle got three outs to earn his sixth save. Both pitchers were acquired shortly before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Giancarlo Stanton hit his major league-leading 37th homer for the Marlins, matching his previous career high.

Scherzer struck out nine and gave up two runs. The right-hander was coming off an abbreviated start against the Marlins six days earlier, when he was pulled after one inning with neck spasms.

In this one, Scherzer allowed only five hits, two of which really mattered: Stanton's home run and an RBI single by pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne, who stepped to the plate with a .036 lifetime batting average.

In a strange twist, Marlins starter Chris O'Grady was forced from the game with a right oblique strain after facing only five batters. He walked Ryan Zimmerman in the second inning and was replaced by Despaigne, who subsequently gave up an RBI single to Matt Wieters.

Harper hit his 29th home run leading off the fourth, a drive deep into the right-field seats. He hit 24 all last season.

Miami got a run back in the fifth when Tomas Telis doubled and scored on a two-out single by Despaigne, who was 2 for 56 with no RBIs in his six-year career.

Stanton tied it in the sixth with his 17th home run at Nationals Park, most by any visiting player.

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.