Washington Nationals scoot past Miami Marlins

By David Driver, The Sports Xchange  |  Aug. 10, 2017 at 11:38 PM
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WASHINGTON -- The depth of the Washington Nationals organization, especially in the outfield, was on display Thursday night.

Center fielder Brian Goodwin hit a tiebreaking home run in the eighth, and rookie Andrew Stevenson, a late replacement in left field after being used as a pinch runner, made a diving catch near the foul line for the final out as the Nationals rallied to defeat the Miami Marlins 3-2.

"I played in some big spots before -- not the big leagues," said Stevenson, who collected his first major league hit July 28. "I am excited to be here and try to contribute."

There is no guarantee Stevenson will be with the Nationals much longer as regular center fielder Michael A. Taylor appears ready to return from the disabled list after making another minor league rehab appearance earlier Thursday for Double-A Harrisburg in nearby Bowie, Md.

But for now, the Nationals will celebrate the baserunning and defense of Stevenson, who is hitting .133 in 14 major league games.

"A hell of a play, an awesome catch," said Tanner Roark, the Nationals' starting pitcher. "I was holding my breath."

Goodwin hit his 13th homer of the year, going deep to right against reliever Junichi Tazawa (1-2). Goodwin had two hits Thursday, and 17 of his 24 hits since July 17 have been for extra bases.

Trailing 2-0 after five, the Nationals tied the game in the sixth. Goodwin had an RBI single, and Bryce Harper laced a run-scoring double.

Miami manager Don Mattingly lamented lost chances as the Marlins dropped three of four games in the series. One mistake came in the sixth with Harper at the plate and Goodwin on second.

"Instead of throwing a back pick, we threw a pitch (to Harper). If we don't get (the pickoff), we walk Harper. We don't want to pitch to Harper," said Mattingly, who noted Harper had a run-scoring double. "Just little stuff, missing signs, signals. Those things that you see that end up hurting us in the end. I am trying to pick that guy off."

First-place Washington (68-45) is 15 games ahead of the Marlins (53-60), who are 6-7 against the Nationals this year, in the National League East.

Roark went six innings and allowed two runs on four hits with five walks and four strikeouts.

"He kept us in the game," Washington manager Dusty Baker said.

Said Roark: "It was one of those nights. I didn't have the velocity. I had to hit my spots."

Miami starter Dan Straily gave up two runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He has never beaten the Nationals in five starts. He admitted the Marlins missed the pickoff sign.

"It was a miscommunication," he said. "And it was something that I realized, I thought it was a different sign the entire season, so I'm lucky that the other times I've done it I haven't missed it. And it's frustrating to miss a sign like that. Miss the sign and miss the location on the pitch."

The winning pitcher was Ryan Madson (2-0 with Washington), who retired all three batters in the eighth after Brandon Kintzler pitched a scoreless seventh.

Sean Doolittle tossed the ninth to get his seventh save with the Nationals. He allowed a one-out double to Miguel Rojas before retiring Dee Gordon (two hits) for the final out as Stevenson made the highlight-reel catch.

Gordon was thrown out stealing in the seventh as he slid headfirst into second.

"I think the umpire stepped on his hand. He's OK," Mattingly said.

Giancarlo Stanton, the major leagues' home run leader, smashed a two-run shot to left off Roark in the third to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead.

It was his 39th homer of the season and the 19th of his career at Nationals Park, the most of any opposing player.

Baker said the Nationals will have tough decisions with roster moves looming.

"That is part of being on a good team," he said.

NOTES: Lorenzo Bundy, the outfield/baserunning coach for the Marlins, grew up in nearby Tappahannock, Va., and starred at James Madison University in Virginia. He presented the lineup card for manager Don Mattingly. ... Washington RHP Edwin Jackson (2-2, 434 ERA) will face the visiting San Francisco Giants and RHP Chris Stratton (0-2, 6.63) on Friday. ... Marlins RHP Jose Urena (10-5, 3.70) will oppose the Colorado Rockies and RHP Jon Gray (4-2, 4.94) on Friday in Miami. ... Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg (right elbow nerve impingement) will either pitch another simulated game or make a minor league rehab appearance after he threw a simulated game of 57 pitches Wednesday. "We haven't decided yet," manager Dusty Baker said.

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