Before the runs came late, Jordan Zimmermann was the story of the game.
The stoic Wisconsin right-hander, a two-time All-Star, commanded his fastball and dominated the Miami Marlins over seven innings, leading the Washington Nationals to a 6-0 lead into the late innings in Marlins Park in Miami.
But the Marlins didn’t get the script, getting eight hits in the last three innings to overcome the six-run deficit, capped by Jeff Baker’s walkoff double to lift Miami to a stunning, come-from-way-behind 7-6 win.
Zimmermann allowed two earned runs — both in the seven inning — on four hits and one walk, striking out six along the way. He left with the Nats leading comfortably at 6-2.
But the Marlins saved their best offense for the eighth and ninth innings against Ross Detwiler and Rafael Soriano.
Detwiler allowed consecutive singles to Hechavarria and Reed Johnson to start the eighth. Christian Yelich bounced one to Espinosa at second, but Espinosa delayed making the tag on the runner and had to settle for the force at first. Jeff Baker then grounded out, bringing home Hechavarria to make it 6-3.
Manager Matt Williams brought in Drew Storen to face Stanton. Storen brushed Stanton back with an inside fastball, then got the slugger to chase two sliders on the corner for the strikeout to end the threat.
But the Marlins weren’t done. Rafael Soriano entered with a three-run lead in the ninth, but that didn’t last. A walk to McGehee and a double by Garrett Jones started the trouble. Ozuna singled to plate McGehee, then Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s RBI sacrifice made it 6-5. Soriano threw one away to move Ozuna to second, but Hechavarria’s triple to the right center gap made that moot, and tied the game at six.
After Soriano hit Donovan Solano, Williams finally had seen enough and called upon lefty Jerry Blevins to face lefty Christian Yelich.
Blevins struck out Yelich on a big curveball for the second out, but Jeff Baker’s double off the right field wall capped the four-run ninth inning and made the comeback complete for the Marlins.
Before the Marlins’ rally, it was all Nats.
Washington broke out on top against Marlins starter Nate Eovaldi in the first inning. With one out, Anthony Rendon singled to right and moved to second on Jayson Werth’s base on balls. A wild pitch moved the runners up 90 feet, and Adam LaRoche’s sacrifice fly brought home Rendon with the first run of the game.
The visitors added to their lead in the sixth inning. Denard Span led off with a bunt single and went to second on Rendon’s single. Werth added the Nats third consecutive single and Span scored from second to make it 2-0.
LaRoche lined out to right and Rendon tagged and went to third, then Ian Desmond walked on a full-count fastball that missed outside. Marlins skipper Mike Redmond called upon lefty Dan Jennings to face Bryce Harper. Jennings induced what looked like a routine double play ball, but the last hop bounced high, and Adeiny Hechavarria mishandled. All hands were safe and Rendon scored on the error to make it 3-0.
Jennings then walked Wilson Ramos to force in Werth for the Nats fourth run.
Danny Espinosa followed with a two-run single and the Nats lead 6-0.
The Marlins got two back in the bottom of the seventh. Zimmermann pitched around Giancarlo Stanton with one out, walking him on five pitches. After Casey McGehee flied out to center for the second out, Jones laced a line drive to right that defensive replacement Nate McLouth ill-advisedly dove for. The ball got past, Stanton scored from first, and Jones ended up with a triple.
Marcel Ozuna then tapped on to the left side, but it got past Rendon at third and ticked off Desmond’s glove at short. All hands were safe, and Jones walked in with the Marlins second run.
Which ended up serving as prelude to the Nats implosion in the final two innings.
Jayson Werth tried to stretch a single in the top of the seventh, but he caught his right spike trying to avoid the tag and second and twisted his lower leg. He left the game and was replaced by McLouth. Werth was 2-for-3 with a run and RI before leaving.
- Harper went 2-for-4 with a run and RBI, and had an outfield assist when Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia took too big a turn at first on a single and Harper threw behind him on the play.
- The Nats were 2-for-9 with RISP and left seven runners on.