Giancarlo makes decision easy for Mattingly

Giancarlo makes decision easy for Mattingly

MIAMI -- Before stepping to the plate in the sixth inning on Tuesday night, Giancarlo Stanton had a brief conversation with manager Don Mattingly. In a scoreless game, the three-time All-Star right fielder was informed he would be coming out of the game after his at-bat.

Stanton made the decision an easy one when he stepped up and knocked the ball out of the park. The opposite-field homer off Tanner Roark was the difference in Miami's 1-0 win over the Nationals at Marlins Park.

The Marlins are still measuring Stanton's playing time as he works back into playing the field five weeks after sustaining a Grade 3 left groin strain. Tuesday marked the first time he made back-to-back starts in right field, and in each game, he was replaced in the later innings by Ichiro Suzuki.

"We were just talking about playing another inning," Mattingly said. "It was kind of at that point, if he makes the last out, how we're going to get there and him possibly playing another inning.

"It didn't make any sense to me for him to play another inning if he wasn't going to get another at-bat. When he gives us the lead there, it just makes sense for us to defend. You hate to see a ball drop that Ich can get to."

Stanton's brute power provided all the support the Marlins needed, as Jose Fernandez threw eight innings and David Phelps locked down the ninth, keeping Miami's Wild Card hopes intack.

Phelps earns the save

Miami is four games off the pace with 11 remaining.

"I definitely like getting a few at-bats rather than one chance a day," Stanton said. "I'm glad I've been feeling better and able to do that."

Stanton's drive to right was projected by Statcast™ to have traveled 374 feet from home plate with an exit velocity of 100 mph.

"I thought he hit a good pitch," Roark said. "Fastball down and away, and he got me. Hats off to him."

Tuesday was a test physically for Stanton, who had more activity than any other game since he came off the disabled list on Sept. 6. He made a leaping attempt on Stephen Drew's double in the first inning, and he even slid into second base in the fourth inning.

"I felt pretty good," Stanton said. "This is as interesting as it gets. One day it will be really tight, and you can't really move. And the other day it will be like nothing is really wrong. It's that roller coaster there. Today was really good. I was interested to see how that jump in the outfield would react. It was fine."

Drew's double to right

The way Fernandez and Roark were throwing, only one run was necessary.

"It was going to be one run, two runs, manufacture it somehow," Stanton said. "Luckily, we held them to the goose egg."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. 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.