The Washington Nationals posted five runs – all with two outs – in a fourth inning rout to help pave the way for a 6-2 win over the Miami Marlins Thursday.
Starter Gio Gonzalez earned his ninth win of the season after allowing two runs on six hits through seven innings pitched. Oddly enough, though his counterpart, Brad Hand, lasted just five innings, he tossed three perfect innings until the Nats’ bats awakened in the fourth.
Before that point, the Marlins had grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second after Gonzalez gave up a single to Jeff Baker and an RBI double to Reed Johnson. Gonzalez struck out Adeiny Hechavarria before forcing both Jarod Saltalamacchia and Enrique Hernandez to line out.
In the top of the fourth, the Nats showcased their ability to keep pressure on their opponents.
Anthony Rendon hit a one-out single before stealing second base with two outs. The stolen bag paid off as Rendon came home on a double by Wilson Ramos. Ramos came home on a single from Ian Desmond, and Bryce Harper kept the inning alive with a single to give Washington runners at the corners.
Asdrubal Cabrera singled in Desmond, advancing Harper to third. Both Harper and Cabrera came home on a single by Kevin Frandsen and a throwing error by Johnson in right.
When all was said and done, Gonzalez returned to the mound with a 5-1 lead over Miami.
In the fifth, that lead expanded to 6-1 after Rendon singled and scored on a double by Jayson Werth.
Miami earned back a run in the bottom of the sixth after a double and stolen base by Christian Yelich, and an RBI single off the bat of Baker.
The Nats went on to hold off the Marlins’ offense while Craig Stammen and Rafael Soriano each provided an inning of hitless relief to end the game.
With the win, the Nationals have improved to an NL-best 88-64 record, two games ahead of the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
THE GOOD: With the except of just a couple potential trouble-spots, Gio Gonzalez came up with a solid outing against the Miami Marlins. With debate circulating about what type of role Gonzalez may carry into the playoffs, it was nice to see the South Florida native showcase his strengths.
The Nats seemingly took manager Matt Williams’ advice to never ease pressure off an opponent. They tallied four two-out RBI and went 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
While Nationals manager Matt Williams undoubtedly made a clever call in opting to pull the closer role from Rafael Soriano, you can’t help but applaud a decent outing by the on-again-off-again-on-again-off-again closer.
THE BAD: Denard Span went 0-for-5 with a strike out.
THE STATS: 6 R, 11 H, 10 K, 4-for-9 with RISP, 5 LOB