MIAMI -- After falling behind to an early six-run deficit, the Marlins stormed back with seven unanswered runs to pull off a 7-6 victory against the Nationals on Tuesday night at Marlins Park. The comeback was highlighted by a four-run fifth inning, which included a three-run homer from Marcell Ozuna followed by the go-ahead RBI triple by Derek Dietrich.
Washington erupted for six runs in the second inning against rookie left-hander Chris O'Grady, including a three-run shot from Max Scherzer for his first career home run. In the dugout following the homer, however, Scherzer showed discomfort. He tossed one warmup pitch during the bottom of the inning before he took himself out of the game after experiencing neck spasms. The Nationals said the move was precautionary.
"I had enough to at least be able to start the game," Scherzer said. "But it kind of hurt when I started to turn a little left. So in the first inning, I could tell I wasn't quite right. It was hard for me to pick up the target. And then when I went out there in the second inning, I could tell it tightened up even more. And once I felt that, I knew it was time to just pull the chute."
"It didn't start very well," said Marlins manager Don Mattingly, whose club also erased a six-run deficit versus Washington on June 19. "Losing [Scherzer] early, it gives you a little hope that you can get back in a little bit, not that you can't do it with him, but your chances aren't very good."
With Scherzer gone, the Marlins began to pounce on the Nationals' middle relief. Miami scored three runs off left-hander Matt Grace as well as a pair of runs each against lefty Sammy Solis and righty Matt Albers.
"We saw everybody talking in their dugout," Ozuna said. "We were, 'What happened to Scherzer? Maybe an injury?' When I saw him coming out, I said, 'OK, we have a chance.'"
The Marlins' bullpen, meanwhile, held the Nationals' offense scoreless for six innings to give Miami a chance to complete the comeback. That included a scoreless ninth from right-hander Brad Ziegler, pitching in his first game since June 20 after landing on the disabled list with a right back strain, to lock down the save. It marked his first save since September 2016.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Ozuna ties it: Ozuna greeted Albers with his 25th home run in the fifth inning, which completed Miami's comeback from a 6-0 deficit. The three-run shot, his second in three games, traveled an estimated 396 feet at an exit velocity of 97 mph, per Statcast™.
A two-time All-Star, Ozuna has been finding consistency by repeatedly changing bats and tinkering a bit with his approach.
"It's hard to explain because I change every at-bat," Ozuna said. "Every at-bat, I change bats and I change style. If I get a home run with that bat, I get another bat. I change the style. Every at-bat is different. I say, 'OK, you want to be the same, be consistent.' But every at-bat, I change."
Ziegler escapes jam: After Ziegler retired the first two batters of the ninth, he surrendered back-to-back singles to Howie Kendrick -- who went 5-for-5 and matched a career high for hits -- and Bryce Harper.
"You always have a chance, especially when you get guys on," Kendrick said. "You get things started and you put pressure on the defense and things happen."
That put runners at the corners with two outs for Ryan Zimmerman, who grounded out to third on the first pitch to seal Miami's victory.
"It felt good. I definitely had a lot of adrenaline, a lot more than usual," Ziegler said. "I think some of it is because I hadn't faced a big league hitter in six weeks. Now that I've got that out of the way, hopefully, it will kind of settle back in, and I'll be a little more comfortable. It's nice to just have an idea that this is when I'm pitching, physically, mentally, being prepared for that moment."
FROM THE TRAINER'S ROOM
The Nationals can breathe a sigh of relief after Scherzer said the move was precautionary because he slept on his neck wrong a few days ago. He has dealt with neck stiffness in the past, and after receiving treatment the past few days, the pain had subsided. However, it stiffened up on him during the game, and Scherzer decided to come out.
"It's just day by day with this thing," Scherzer said. "This isn't an injury where I crashed or did something stupid. This is just, I slept on it wrong. Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you have a crick in your neck. That's what it is." More >
However, the Marlins revealed during the game that right-hander Edinson Volquez will undergo Tommy John surgery on Friday to repair his torn UCL. Volquez, who had been on the disabled list with a left knee injury, was Miami's Opening Day starter and tossed a no-hitter at Marlins Park on June 3. Rookie shortstop JT Riddle will also have surgery on his left shoulder and miss the rest of 2017.
"I think [Dietrich] and [hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo] kind of hit on something a few days back. It's been three or four days now, and he's stayed with the same thing. You're seeing him kind of hit with more rhythm instead of getting stagnant up there and just letting it go. It's been better, for sure. Even the swings, the foul balls and stuff like that. They're loose and they're coming through the zone, so he's definitely been better." -- Mattingly, on Dietrich ironing out some issues with Pagliarulo
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals: Right-hander A.J. Cole will be promoted from Triple-A Syracuse to make the spot start for Wednesday's series finale at Marlins Park. He threw six innings of one-run ball in a spot start against the Phillies in May. The Nationals will also gain some help from their newest reliever, right-hander Brandon Kintzler, who is also expected to join the team before first pitch at 7:10 p.m. ET.
Marlins: Miami closes out the three-game series and its seven-game homestand on Wednesday. Vance Worley (0-2, 6.42 ERA) was in Spring Training with Washington. The right-hander has moved into the rotation after being used in long relief.