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Nats lineup bails out struggling bullpen in extra innings win over Marlins


Nats lineup bails out struggling bullpen in extra innings win over Marlins

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals knew they were facing a stiff challenge, trying to beat Jose Fernandez for the first time in six career head-to-head matchups. It would require a strong performance from Max Scherzer, not to mention some timely hits. Thing is, they got all that but still wound up engaged in a battle of bullpens to decide this must-win game.

After Scherzer convinced Matt Williams to let him finish the top of the seventh, the Nationals' bullpen couldn't get through the eighth unscathed. A pair of singles off Felipe Rivero and then an RBI grounder off Blake Treinen brought the go-ahead run home for the Marlins.

The Nationals, though, stormed right back in the bottom of the eighth. Yunel Escobar singled and Bryce Harper drew a walk to set the stage. The key moment, though, came when Trea Turner (pinch-running for Escobar) aggressively took third base on a wild pitch that didn't bounce very far from catcher J.T. Realmuto. That put Turner in position to score on Ian Desmond's sac fly to shallow center field, tying the game. Moments later, Michael Taylor delivered the latest in his string of clutch hits this season, sending a 2-out, RBI single up the middle to score Harper and give the Nationals the lead.

Jonathan Papelbon came on to close things out in the ninth but immediately got into trouble. Miguel Rojas led off with a ball down the first-base line and wound up on third base when Harper's ill-advised throw sailed way off-line. Papelbon got Dee Gordon to hit a flyball to center, and Taylor's throw appeared to beat Rojas to the plate ... but sailed over Jose Lobaton's head, letting the tying run score.

The Nationals couldn't rally in the bottom of the ninth, so this one went extras. At which point the Nationals finally delivered the winning run. Jayson Werth led off with a double to right-center, then later took third on Realmuto's passed ball. After a couple of intentional walks, Lobaton stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and lofted a flyball to left. Christian Yelich's throw to the plate beat Werth, but Realmuto couldn't hang onto it, and so the Nats somehow eked out a 5-4 walk-off win.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Clint Robinson certainly has been given some tough assignments in his rookie season. It feels like he's always in the lineup against the toughest pitchers the Nationals have faced. Maybe that's because he's proven he can hit those guys. With two more hits tonight off Fernandez, including a second-deck homer in the bottom of the second, Robinson added to his impressive resume. He has now gone 14-for-30 with four doubles, a homer and two walks against Fernandez, Matt Harvey, Zack Greinke, Madison Bumgarner, Gerrit Cole, Clayton Kershaw, Francisco Liriano and Masahiro Tanaka. Not bad at all.

PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: No question, it came with two outs in the top of the seventh and the go-ahead runner on second. With Scherzer's pitch count at 102, Dee Gordon stepping to the plate and Felipe Rivero warm in the bullpen, Williams emerged from the dugout. Every other time he's done that this year, it's signaled a pitching change. Not this time. Before Williams even reached the mound, Scherzer made it crystal clear he wasn't giving up the ball. "I want it! I [expletive] want it!" So Williams turned around, eliciting a roar from the crowd. So, what did Scherzer do? He got Gordon to ground out to short, ending the inning and earning a bunch of emphatic high-fives when he returned to the dugout.

KEY STAT: After going 365 days between blown saves, Jonathan Papelbon has now blown back-to-back opportunities this week.

UP NEXT: Saturday's game (with a 4:05 p.m. start time) will see Jordan Zimmermann (12-8, 3.51) take the mound for the Nationals against Marlins lefty Justin Nicolino (3-3, 3.81).

MORE NATIONALS: Showalter says he's not watching scoreboard

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Jose Urena throws 1st complete game, Marlins rout Nationals 12-1

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Jose Urena throws 1st complete game, Marlins rout Nationals 12-1

WASHINGTON -- Jose Urena's previous start ended after one very heated pitch.

On Sunday, he went the distance.

Urena made the most of his borrowed time, pitching a two-hitter for his first complete game in the majors and leading the Miami Marlins over the Washington Nationals 12-1 on Sunday.

Urena (4-12) was suspended for six games by Major League Baseball after hitting Atlanta rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. on Wednesday. Urena was ejected from that start after throwing one fastball and appealed the penalty, keeping him eligible to play.

"I know what I did, and I know what kind of person I am and what kind of teammate," Urena said. "Just tried to execute my plan and go out there and have fun and show what I can do."

Urena, tied for the NL lead in hit batters, didn't plunk anyone on the Nationals, nor did he alter his approach. He struck out four, walked two and retired the last 16 batters. It was his first complete game in 74 big league starts.

"If you make a mistake you've got to pay," Urena said of Washington's lineup. "We tried to move their feet, make them uncomfortable at the plate. Try to attack the inside."

Right-hander Pablo Lopez was originally slated to start Sunday's game, but manager Don Mattingly opted to push him back to Tuesday and insert Urena.

The 26-year-old right-hander's next start would normally be scheduled for next weekend at home against the Braves. Urena could decide to drop the appeal, serve the suspension and miss that series -- after the game, he said he'll maintain the appeal.

Starlin Castro got a career-high five hits and scored three times. JT Riddle and J.T. Realmuto each homered and drove in three runs for Miami, with Riddle connecting for the second straight game. Isaac Galloway had three hits, including his first career homer.

It was the Marlins' first series win in Washington since 2014.

Trying to keep pace with the Braves and Phillies in the NL East, the third-place Nationals have now lost four of their last five against the last-place Marlins. The Nationals host the Phillies for three games beginning Tuesday night.

Gio Gonzalez (7-10) allowed eight runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings. Over his last 13 starts, Gonzalez is 1-8 with 7.07 ERA.

"I think it was in all honesty an ugly game. And everybody saw it," manager Dave Martinez said. "Gio couldn't keep us in the game and it got ugly."

Leading 3-1, the Marlins broke it open with a five-run fifth. After Riddle's sacrifice fly, the Marlins loaded the bases and Rafael Ortega hit a bases-loaded, two-run double off the glove of a diving first baseman Matt Adams to end Gonzalez's afternoon.

Realmuto greeted reliever Greg Holland with a two-run single, making it 8-1.

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Bryce Harper drives in 3, Nationals snap skid, beat Cardinals 5-4


Bryce Harper drives in 3, Nationals snap skid, beat Cardinals 5-4

ST. LOUIS -- Koda Glover rewarded his manager's faith.

Bryce Harper had three hits and drove in three runs, Glover earned the save in the first opportunity since Ryan Madson was placed on the disabled list, and the Washington Nationals snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night.

The Nationals won for just the third time in their last 10 games and snapped the Cardinals' season-high, eight-game winning streak.

"We needed a win today," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "Get on that plane, have a nice happy flight and come back tomorrow and be at home and be ready."

Tanner Roark (8-12) gave up four runs, three earned, in six innings.

A beleaguered bullpen that had blown two leads to start the losing streak took care of the rest. Justin Miller pitched two scoreless innings before Glover closed it out.

"There's been a lot of changes (in the bullpen)," Miller said. "It's unfortunate, a couple of injuries and stuff like that, but I don't really look at it as I've got the seventh or eighth or anything like that. I'm just going out there just trying to do my job."

Glover took the loss in the series opener on Monday, giving up a game-ending homer to Paul DeJong.

"The first game of the series didn't go as I would have liked for it to have went," Glover said. "So to get put back in that situation or even a better situation to get a save, I'm happy with that outcome."

Harper drove in the game's first run with a double in the first and knocked in two more with a bases-loaded single in the fourth to give the Nationals a 4-1 lead.

A pair of errors helped the Nationals extend their lead to 5-1 in the fifth. St. Louis committed three errors in the game after committing just four total errors during the winning streak.

"A couple plays clearly we expect to make and will make and just didn't go our way for a little bit there," Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt said. "To the guys' credit they regrouped, settled down, and started playing back to the baseball they know they can play."

The Nationals had opportunities to pad the lead, leaving the bases loaded in the third and fifth while stranding nine runners in the first five innings.

"When you have an opportunity to put teams away you've got to do that," Martinez said. "Especially with how hot the Cardinals are playing right now. They're going to come back."

The Cardinals got within one in the sixth. After DeJong and Kolten Wong came up with back-to-back, two-out RBI hits, Harrison Bader hit a slow grounder to third. Anthony Rendon's throw to first got away from Ryan Zimmerman for an error, allowing Wong to score from second to cut the Nationals' lead to 5-4.

Just two of the four runs Luke Weaver (6-11) allowed in his 3 2/3 innings were earned. He gave up seven hits, including two to Roark, who scored both times.

Tyson Ross allowed one unearned run in 3 1/3 innings of relief.

Bader homered in the third and Matt Carpenter walked twice to extend his on-base streak to a career-high 34 games.


Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson will have an MRI on his sore right wrist on Friday. RHP Joe Ross (right elbow surgery) threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings at Class A Potomac on Thursday and is hoping for a September return.

Cardinals: RHP Carlos Martinez (right shoulder strain) will begin a rehab Friday at Double-A Springfield. RHP Adam Wainwright (right elbow inflammation) threw two scoreless innings Thursday night at High-A Palm Beach.


Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (15-5, 2.19 ERA) will take the mound as the Nationals return home for a three-game series Friday night against the Miami Marlins and RHP Dan Straily (4-5, 4.42 ERA). Scherzer is 3-0 with a 3.43 ERA in three starts this season against the Marlins.

Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (6-6, 3.22 ERA) kicks off a three-game series Friday night as the Cardinals host the Milwaukee Brewers and RHP Freddy Peralta (5-3, 4.47 ERA). Flaherty struck out a career-high 13 batters in his last start against the Brewers on June 22.