WASHINGTON -- The famous Max Scherzer chocolate sauce and a walk-off win returned Friday to Nationals Park, which has not been the scene of such celebrations in recent weeks.
Early in the season Scherzer, in his first year with Washington, began to dump chocolate sauce on the hero of a late-inning victory. The Nationals have fallen eight games back of the first-place New York Mets, but Scherzer brought the sauce out of hibernation for backup catcher Jose Lobaton.
Lobaton had a bases-loaded sacrifice fly off reliever Brian Ellington to score outfielder Jayson Werth in the last of the 10th inning as the Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 5-4 and keep their tenuous playoff hopes alive.
"It is something you really want to do when you get in that situation," said Lobaton, who has just 17 RBIs this year in 125 at-bats. "I'm really excited it happened."
Scherzer dumped the sauce on Lobaton, and pitcher Doug Fister and shortstop Ian Desmond poured liquid on the catcher in front of the dugout after the winning run scored. Washington had lost its previous four home games, but captured its sixth walk-off win of the year and 33rd comeback victory.
"That was really good," Lobaton said. "My hair still smells like chocolate."
The winning pitcher was Casey Janssen (2-5), who threw a scoreless top of the 10th while Ellington fell to 1-1. Washington is 8-2 in extra-inning games this year.
The Marlins tied the game at 4 in the ninth on a sacrifice fly to center by second baseman Dee Gordon off closer Jonathan Papelbon, who blew a save try for the second time this week.
Center fielder Michael A. Taylor, after pinch-hitting in the sixth, drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out single in the eighth to give the Nationals a 4-3 lead.
Desmond had tied the game at 3 earlier in the inning with a sacrifice fly to score pinch-runner Trea Turner.
The Nationals (76-71) remained eight games back of the first-place New York Mets in the National League East. Miami (64-84) had won nine of the previous 16 games this year against Washington.
"They enjoy playing the game," Washington manager Matt Williams said of his veteran club. "They have a great desire to win and compete."
Werth began the rally in the 10th with a double and then barely beat the throw from center for the winning run.
"Jayson started it. That started the inning for us," Williams said.
Miami center fielder Marcell Ozuna had driven in a go-ahead run with a fielder's choice in the top of the eighth inning to give the Marlins a 3-2 lead.
Washington tied the game at 2 in a tense sixth inning. Outfielder Bryce Harper led off with a walk and Werth was hit by a pitch, which prompted Werth to say a few words to starting pitcher Jose Fernandez.
Werth walked slowly to first base while looking at Fernandez, but nothing else transpired. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, and Fernandez threw a second wild pitch that allowed Harper to score the tying run.
Fernandez was not involved in the decision as he allowed five hits and two runs while throwing 95 pitches in 5 2/3 innings.
Washington starter Max Scherzer also garnered a no-decision as he allowed five hits and two runs in seven innings. Scherzer has not won at home -- a span of seven starts -- since he threw a no-hitter June 20 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Nationals first baseman Clint Robinson, a 30-year-old rookie, had two hits, including a homer.
Miguel Rojas, the Marlins shortstop, had two hits and scored the tying run in the ninth after he led off with a double and went to third on a throwing error by Harper. Marlins center fielder Christian Yelich also had two hits, including his seventh homer of the year, a two-run shot in the first off Scherzer, to give Miami a 2-0 lead.
Washington pulled to within 2-1 in the second as Robinson hit a solo homer to right off Fernandez.
"Great swing. The ball went really far," Fernandez said. "That kind of was funny to watch. You just try to make good pitches, try to make quick outs. Try to give your team a chance to win. That's what I try to do every time I go out there. I feel good. I feel healthy."
Fernandez made his ninth start of the year and second since coming off the disabled list Sept. 12 after he missed nearly a month with a right biceps strain.
"I think we were 0-for-9 in scoring position, left some runners out there at third base that we weren't able to get in. It's been the first time that we've done that over the last two to three weeks. We've had better success," said Dan Jennings, the Marlins manager.
NOTES: Miami RHP Jose Fernandez made his first start ever at Nationals Park on Friday. In five previous starts in Miami against the Nationals he is 3-0 with an ERA of 0.58 ... Washington RHP Jordan Zimmermann (12-8, 3.51) will face Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino (3-3, 3.81) on Saturday ... Washington OF Bryce Harper entered Friday as the league leader in on-base average (.467), slugging (.669) and homers (40) ... Miami 2B Dee Gordon entered Friday with a batting average of .368 against the National League East this year, with a mark of .359 against Washington. Gordon has a hit in each of his last 10 games at Nationals Park, including a single on Friday.