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Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins overpower Washington Nationals

By
Walter Villa, The Sports Xchange
Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez. UPI/Rob Cornforth
Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez. UPI/Rob Cornforth | License Photo

MIAMI -- It was power pitcher against power hitter.

In perhaps the most exciting pitch of the night, Miami Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez blew a 99 mph fastball past Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper, who swung and missed during his second plate appearance.

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That was indicative of the night for the Nationals, who came up empty repeatedly.

Fernandez got another home win, and slumping Giancarlo Stanton overshadowed red-hot Harper as Miami defeated Washington 6-1 Monday night at Marlins Park.

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Harper, who entered the game with homers in four consecutive games, matching a franchise record, was unable to go deep. He went 0-for-2 with an RBI and a walk and is hitting .341 this season.

"Obviously, you hear about (Harper's) home runs and all that stuff," said Fernandez, who is 4-0 in seven career starts against Washington. "It's kind of fun. He comes up there -- he's Bryce Harper, and I've got to get my team an out. I just tried to get him out and the whole lineup out."

Fernandez (1-1) wasn't super sharp, but he did just enough to improve his career home record to 18-1. He allowed three hits, four walks and one run while striking out nine in six innings.

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"He was effectively wild," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said of Fernandez. "He got in a couple of jams. His pitch count got up early. We had opportunities."

The Nationals could not cash in, though, and the Marlins (4-7) earned their first home victory of the season after five consecutive home losses. Fernandez also posted the first win by a Marlins starter this year.

Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton went 2-for-3 with a homer, two RBIs, two runs and a walk. He entered the game hitting just .211 with six strikeouts in his past two games, but he busted out with his homer in the fifth inning and his RBI single in the seventh.

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Washington, which leads the NL East, fell to 9-3. Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy, who started the day leading the majors in batting average, went 1-for-4 and is hitting .415. He extended his hitting streak to 10 games, the longest active run in the National League.

Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark (1-2) gave up seven hits, two walks and five runs (four earned) in six innings. He struck out two.

Miami got to Roark quickly, scoring three runs in the first.

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Leadoff man Dee Gordon singled, stole second, advanced to third on a balk and scored when Christian Yelich bounced a single past a drawn-in infield. After a walk to Stanton, Marcell Ozuna hit a 2-2 pitch for a two-out, two-run single to left-center.

"That was a huge hit (by Ozuna)," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.

Roark said, "One bad pitch to Ozuna, that's about it. Everything else felt good."

Fernandez got in trouble in the second, walking Roark to load the bases with two outs. Fernandez then fell behind 2-0 to Michael Taylor before striking him out on a 2-2 slider that broke away from the batter.

After the inning was over, Fernandez -- frustrated by a high pitch count -- smacked himself in the head with his glove.

"It felt good," Fernandez said of the head slap.

Turning serious, Fernandez said he was a little disappointed with how he pitched early.

"I felt very strong before the game," he said. "I felt like my body was going 100,000 miles. As the game went on, my body started catching up with my arm."

Fortunately for Fernandez, the Marlins gave him good run support while he made his adjustments.

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Miami made it 4-0 in the second, getting an RBI groundout by Martin Prado. The damage in the inning could have been more severe, but Harper raced back to steal what likely would have been a two-run triple by Gordon.

Fernandez was working on a no-hitter until Taylor hit a one-out double in the fifth. Taylor came around to score on Harper's sacrifice fly, cutting Miami's lead to 4-1.

Stanton then drilled his solo homer to right-center, hitting a 2-0 pitch from Roark for his third long ball of the season.

In the seventh, Stanton capped the scoring with his RBI single.

"He's so good that we all know he's going to be who he is," Fernandez said of Stanton, who averaged 32 homers a year for the past five seasons. "It's great to see him having fun."

NOTES: Marlins RF Giancarlo Stanton and Nationals RF Bryce Harper are two of just five major league players with at least 60 homers since 2014. ... Marlins hitting coach and seven-time NL MVP Barry Bonds was seen chatting with Harper prior to Monday's game. ... Through the first 11 games, Washington starters had a 1.87 ERA, best in the majors. ... There are three Nationals players from South Florida -- LHP Gio Gonzalez (Hialeah), CF Michael Taylor (Fort Lauderdale) and OF Matt den Dekker (Fort Lauderdale). ... Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon has struggled against his former team, Philadelphia. In four games against the Phillies, he has a 12.27 ERA with two blown saves. In 24 games against the rest of the majors as a member of the Nationals, he has a 2.10 ERA and 12 saves in 13 chances.

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