WASHINGTON -- The Mariners had not scored more than one run in any game since May 18, so scoring four runs Thursday afternoon qualified as an offensive outburst. Nelson Cruz hammered a go-ahead three-run homer and Robinson Cano added a run-scoring single, helping Seattle snap a five-game skid with a 4-2 victory against the Nationals at Nationals Park.
It was exactly what Mariners manager Scott Servais, who was ejected during the sixth inning, asked for after his postgame comments Wednesday night, prompting his team to pick up its intensity. In that sixth, Jean Segura and Cano collected hits off left-hander Gio Gonzalez, setting the stage for Cruz's homer against right-hander Jacob Turner.
"That's what Nelson Cruz does for our team," Servais said. "I think from a leadership standpoint, him and Robbie, those are the veteran guys. ... That's what you need, your veteran players to drive the train."
Gonzalez had weaved in and out of trouble all day, issuing four walks and getting into deep counts. He was removed with one out in the fifth in favor of Turner, who yielded the homer to Cruz.
"I saw a couple balls hit hard right after we scored," Nationals manager Dusty Baker on his decision to pull Gonzalez. "[Gonzalez] was struggling all day. It was kind of like Houdini that got out of trouble a bunch. He was 2-0 on everybody. Very few first pitch strikes. [He was] 3-2 on a lot of hitters, and his pitch count was extremely high with a dangerous hitter up there."
Both starters carried a no-hitter into the fifth, but neither made it out of the sixth. Mariners lefty Ariel Miranda gave up two runs on three hits in five innings, his no-hit bid ending with a leadoff homer in the fifth from Anthony Rendon -- his third consecutive game with a homer.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Cruz ignites Mariners offense: Two batters after Servais was ejected for arguing balls and strikes, Cruz delivered the spark the Mariners had been seeking. The veteran's sixth-inning go-ahead shot traveled 415 feet to left-center field and left the bat with an exit velocity of 106 mph, per Statcast™. The blast marked the first time Seattle's offense had scored more than a run in a game since its last win, May 19 against the White Sox.
"We needed it," Cruz said. "We need the win no matter how many runs [we need] to score to win." More >
Murphy keeps Nats in it: The Nationals were able to stay within striking distance late in the game thanks to a nifty defensive play from second baseman Daniel Murphy. Down 4-2 and with the bases loaded for Kyle Seager, reliever Blake Treinen induced a sharp grounder that went to Murphy, who dove to his left to snag the ball before quickly turning and firing to second base to start a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat.
"I try to catch the ball as I'm supposed to catch," Murphy said. "I feel a lot more comfortable out this year between [bench coach] Chris Speier and Stephen Drew has helped me a lot. Made a little bit of some subtle adjustments I think on defense and I feel a bit more comfortable out there."
"It was attack, attack mode. I thought our guys really responded to a disappointing effort [Wednesday] night, it says a lot about our team. They rallied together and we got after it. Everybody contributed today." -- Servais, on how his team responded to his challenge after Wednesday night's 5-1 loss to the Nats
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Mariners picked up their first victory in D.C. since the Nationals moved here in 2005, halting an eight-game losing streak. Before Thursday, the last win by a Seattle Major League team in the nation's capital was on Aug. 9, 1969, when the Pilots defeated the Senators, 8-6.
WHAT'S NEXT Mariners: Seattle heads north to Boston, opening its first series against the Red Sox this season Friday at 4:05 p.m. PT. The Mariners will tap veteran right hander Yovani Gallardo (2-4, 5.84 ERA), who will look to bounce back from his roughest start of the season when he allowed nine earned runs against the White Sox on May 20.
Nationals:Max Scherzer will take the mound for the Nationals as they welcome the Padres for a three-game series beginning Friday at 7:05 p.m ET at Nationals Park. Since joining the Nats, Scherzer owns a 1.35 ERA in three starts against San Diego.