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Nats bats come alive late in 6-4 win over Marlins

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Nats bats come alive late in 6-4 win over Marlins

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: On the heels of an eventful, 10-game road trip that ended on a high note, the Nationals were right back at the park Monday night to open a 6-game homestand, with another surging division rival in town. What transpired was another taut, low-scoring affair that was decided late.

As has been the case too often this season, the eighth inning appeared to be the Nationals' downfall yet again. But then came an impressive counter-punch that flipped the script entirely.

After tying the game in the bottom of the seventh on Jayson Werth's 2-out RBI single, the Nats gave two runs back to the Marlins during a rally that began with a Dee Gordon leadoff walk against Blake Treinen. Treinen did record a pair of strikeouts to put his team on the verge of escaping the jam, but rookie Matt Grace surrendered a 2-out single to pinch-hitter Jeff Baker, with Gordon scoring ahead of Bryce Harper's one-hop throw to the plate, which was dropped by Wilson Ramos.

The Nationals, though, struck right back in the bottom of the inning when Ian Desmond launched a first-pitch fastball from Bryan Morris into the batter's eye in center field, tying this game at 4 and earning a curtain call from the appreciative crowd of 24,731. Then after hits by Tyler Moore and Denard Span, Yunel Escobar delivered his fifth hit of the night, this one a 2-run single that gave the Nats the lead.

Up 2 runs in the ninth, the Nationals had to make an on-the-fly adjustment. With Drew Storen and Aaron Barrett unavailable after pitching three of the last four days, Tanner Roark was summoned for the first save opportunity of his career. And the right-hander came through, striking out Giancarlo Stanton on a 3-2 slider to end it.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: What a revelation Escobar has been for the Nationals. He was touted for his ability to put the bat on the ball, and he has done that to perfection so far this season, never better than he did Monday night. With a 5-for-5 performance at the plate, the veteran infielder delivered five singles, in a variety of styles. He pulled base hits to left field, he went the other way on hit-and-runs. And with the game on the line in the eighth, he again went the other way off Morris, lining his big single to right that put the Nats ahead for the first time in the game.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: After some inconsistent starts over the last month, Jordan Zimmermann was pretty much back to his old self in this game. He had command of all four of his pitches, he worked fast, he got quick outs and he didn't walk a batter over seven strong innings. The first run Zimmermann allowed wasn't his fault — Werth's error set the stage for it to score — but he did make a mistake on his seventh-inning fastball to Justin Bour, resulting in the go-ahead homer. Still, Zimmermann pitched plenty well enough to earn a win. Unfortunately, Matt Williams had no choice but to pull him for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the seventh, despite a pitch count of only 81.

KEY STAT: During his 20-game streak reaching base, Bryce Harper owns a .460 on-base percentage.

UP NEXT: Tuesday night's game features Stephen Strasburg (2-2, 4.60) trying to bounce back after a rough start in Miami last weekend, with Mat Latos (0-3, 6.86) trying to duplicate his strong outing against the Nats in that previous series. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.