Nats rally to take rubber game from Marlins

Nats rally to take rubber game from Marlins

WASHINGTON -- A combination of long balls and long rallies paced the Nationals on Sunday as they clinched their fourth consecutive series victory with a 7-4 win over the Marlins at Nationals Park. Washington remains 5 1/2 games back of the Mets, who beat the Red Sox, 5-4.

"We've got a long way to go," outfielder Jayson Werth said. "We've got a tough three-game road trip in St. Louis. We need to keep winning series and keep winning ballgames to give ourselves a chance. I don't think anybody in here has given up. I think everyone believes in each other and believes in this team. We've got a long way to go."

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Doug Fister pitched two scoreless innings and earned his first win since July 29 in relief of Stephen Strasburg, who was pulled after four innings with "discomfort in his upper back," according to manager Matt Williams.

"I wouldn't jump to that conclusion," Strasburg said when asked if he thought a return to the disabled list was in his future. "I think it's just something that I'm going to have to grind through and get through the year and then figure out exactly what it is in the offseason."

Justin Bour cranked his second home run of the series in the first inning with two outs and two runners on base to give the Marlins an early edge. Left-hander Brad Hand wasn't able to hold the lead, however, allowing five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.

"This is a chance to play the spoiler," Miami manager Dan Jennings said after his team dropped two of three in the series. "It's a great experience for a lot of these young guys. Some of our young pitchers, especially, are getting opportunities to showcase their abilities. For the most part, they're stepping up in a big way."

Williams on Strasburg

Touching them all: Werth's line drive in the third inning barely cleared the left-field fence, but it counted for two runs all the same and cut into a 3-0 Nationals' deficit. Three innings later, with the Nationals ahead 5-4, pinch-hitter Clint Robinson provided some insurance, blasting a two-run shot into the second deck at Nationals Park. It was the seventh career home run for the 30-year-old rookie, and his first pinch-hit blast. The Nationals have hit 18 home runs in their last 10 games.

"This is a game of repetition," Robinson said. "The more reps you get, the more comfortable you feel and the better you get at it. I think as the season's went along, the anxiety level definitely isn't as high as it was at the beginning of the year. I'm just going to continue to try to be ready whenever my name is called, and I'm just going to try to give the best at-bat I can."

Werth's two-run tater

Bour's big blast: For the second straight game Bour flexed his power. The left-handed-hitting first baseman, who grew up in the D.C. area and attended George Mason University, blistered a three-run homer in the first inning, his 14th of the season. The drive off Strasburg was projected by Statcast™ to have traveled 428 feet from home plate. On Saturday, Bour connected on a mammoth home run off Jordan Zimmermann.

"It's good to see us jump out the way we did," Jennings said. "Bour with the big home run. It gave Brad a little breathing room, which is nice to have against this ballclub."

Bour's three-run homer

Stringing them together: In the fifth inning, Werth came up with one out and Michael Taylor on second base -- the same scenario in which Werth homered earlier in the game. This time, Werth squared up an 0-1 changeup, pulling it into the left-field corner for an RBI double. He scored two batters later on Bryce Harper's RBI single. Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond both chipped in to the rally, adding a pair of singles, the latter of which gave the Nationals a 5-4 lead.

"I think we've done a good job of battling back," Werth said. "Sometimes it hasn't been enough. But we've battled and been in games. It was good to win the series. Strasburg going down after four and Dougie coming in, [and] us adding on some runs for him and getting the series."

Harper's RBI single ties game

Hand can't hold lead: Hand's struggles against the Nationals continued, as the Marlins staked the lefty to a three-run lead in the first inning and a 4-2 edge entering the fifth. Washington chipped back, getting two runs in the third on Werth's two-run homer. Hand was unable to make it through the fifth, allowing three runs that put the Nationals in front, 5-4. Hand fell to 0-6 with a 7.96 ERA in his career against Washington.

"We got some runs early, and I was trying to put up zeros," Hand said. "I couldn't make that pitch to get out of the inning. After the runner on second with one out, I made a mistake to Werth for the double. But then after that, I got Harper up with two outs and two strikes, and I left a pitch over the plate a little too much, and he hit it. Then, I couldn't make another pitch after that."

"We don't really have a choice. We're here trying to win ballgames, and it's not time to sit there and try to get comfortable and massage our egos and all that stuff. We've got go out and win ballgames. And we've got put our nose to the grindstone and just gut through the last month of the season, try and catch the Mets and try and make the playoffs. It's not time to worry about anything else. We're just out here to win ballgames."
-- Robinson, on the Nats dealing with injuries and adversity

"We battled and stayed right there. We had a look at it in the ninth inning, bringing the tying run to the plate. Unfortunately, we just didn't get that hit."
-- Jennings, on the late threat falling short

With their two homers on Sunday, the Nats totaled seven long balls in the series. That's the most the Marlins have allowed in a three-game series this season. Twice, they surrendered six -- at Toronto (June 8-10) and at home against the Cardinals (June 23-25).

Robinson's two-run moonshot

Marlins: The Marlins open a three-game set at Turner Field in Atlanta beginning on Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Chris Narveson (1-1, 7.04 ERA) gets the start for Miami, while the Braves counter with Mike Foltynewicz (4-6, 5.71 ERA).

Nationals: Washington heads to St. Louis for a brief three-game road trip against the Cardinals before returning to the district for seven games in seven days. Gio Gonzalez (9-7, 4.11 ERA) will pitch the opener for the Nationals against John Lackey (11-8, 2.92 ERA).

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Jacob Emert is an associate reporter for Joe Frisaro is a reporter for He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.