Prado providing clutch hits, big plays in the field

Veteran breaks tie with eighth-inning RBI single to lift Marlins to win

Prado providing clutch hits, big plays in the field

MIAMI -- To overcome their slow start will require a group effort. On Friday night, one of the Marlins' veteran team leaders stepped up with another timely hit.

Martin Prado slapped a soft single to right in the eighth inning off Aaron Barrett to lift Miami to a 3-2 win over the Nationals at Marlins Park.

Winners of three straight, the Marlins are starting to establish some consistent play. They're getting quality starting pitching, and some big hits. Fittingly, Prado has been at the center of the turnaround, driving in six runs over the past three games.

"When I went up to home plate, the only thing I'm thinking is I want to step up for my teammates," Prado said.

Prado's go-ahead RBI single

On the night, the veteran was 1-for-4. He struck out in his first at-bat off Jordan Zimmermann. He also had a couple of soft popups to first base.

But in the eighth inning, with the go-ahead run at third base and one out, Prado did just enough to flip the ball over a drawn-in infield.

"Big at-bat in a big situation," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "This guy has been around a long time. He gives you a professional at-bat every single time."

Barrett started Prado off with a couple of sliders. On a 1-1 count, Barrett threw a 96 mph sinking fastball. Prado simply poked the ball into right field, scoring Adeiny Hechavarria.

Prado's nice diving grab

Miami had runners on the corners when Hechavarria doubled and Dee Gordon reached on an infield single. Gordon stole second, and the Nationals moved their infield in.

"Hechy had the double, and I got into a situation where Dee stole second base," Prado said. "It was just only me there. I was looking to hit something in the air. Fortunately, I had a base hit."

Prado followed up his decisive hit with a sparkling defensive play to rob Yunel Escobar of a single in the ninth. The play gave closer Steve Cishek a boost, and he logged his first save.

The past three games, Prado has delivered some timely hits. But he sees a whole roster capable of doing special things.

"I see it like everybody here can do that," Prado said. "Just some guys have been here longer in baseball, and they have had more opportunity in the past. But they're going to be through this.

"To know they can count on me any time, when I make a mistake, when I make an error, they always back me up, and that's the way I feel. I've got to do everything I can."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.