WASHINGTON (AP) – Nationals manager Dave Martinez acknowledged he was looking for someone who could end the game with one swing in the ninth inning Friday night.
He chose the right guy.
Pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds led off the bottom of the ninth with a home run that lifted the Nationals past the Miami Marlins 3-2.
“Thought about pinch-hitting Michael (A. Taylor). He gets on, he can steal, but then what?” Martinez said. “So I said, ‘Hey, we need somebody who can hit a home run right now and Mark is the perfect guy.'”
Kyle Barraclough (0-3) fell behind Reynolds in the count 3-0. Reynolds, who is 7 for his last 18 after struggling for most of June, fouled off a pitch. The Nationals slugger then sent a fastball into the visitors’ bullpen in left-center for his eighth home run.
“If I’m up there and it’s 0-2, I’m obviously not looking to turn on something,” he said. “I knew 3-0 I was going to take a hack and then (he) pretty much threw the same pitch 3-1 and I kind of got my timing a little bit.”
Four Nationals relievers combined to allow only a hit and a walk over the final four innings. Sean Doolittle (3-2) pitched the ninth for the win as Washington defeated Miami for the 13th consecutive game dating to last season.
The Nationals loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth, but failed to score.
Unlike Thursday night when Washington overcame a 9-0 deficit for a 14-12 win, big hits were harder to come by as the teams stranded 17 baserunners.
Miami starter Dan Straily lasted six innings, allowing two runs on five hits.
Gio Gonzalez threw 114 pitches over five innings and gave up eight hits and four walks. He was bailed out by three double plays and struck out Justin Bour and Garrett Cooper with the bases loaded in the fifth after walking in the tying run.
“I thought our offense did a pretty good job with Gio,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We just didn’t really capitalize. . Didn’t get anything in the fourth and one in the fifth with chances to do more damage and didn’t do anything right there. I thought that was kind of the turning point for us.”
The Nationals took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on RBI singles by Adam Eaton and Wilmer Difo.
It was Reynolds’ second career walk-off home run, and first since July 26, 2016, vs. Arizona as a member of the Colorado Rockies. It was Washington’s first walk-off home run of the season.
With two outs in the sixth and Eaton on second base, Difo hit a shot to right-center. Center fielder Cameron Maybin raced to his left and made a diving catch to preserve a 2-2 tie. “Unreal,” Straily said. “I saw my reaction and it was one of those things where I was upset at myself for giving up a double in the gap there and all the sudden he lays out and catches it.”
Marlins: Cooper (right wrist contusion) was activated from the 60-day disabled list. Miami optioned LHP Dillon Peters (2-2, 7.16 ERA) to Triple-A New Orleans to make room on the roster.
Nationals: Martinez said RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) “looked real good” throwing a simulated game Friday and could possibly go out on a rehab assignment Tuesday. … C Matt Wieters (left hamstring strain) will likely play a rehab game at Double-A Harrisburg on Saturday. … RHP Joe Ross (elbow surgery) threw a simulated game Friday and hopes to rejoin the team in September. … Martinez said the team “bleached” the clubhouse due to an illness that has affected a few players.
Marlins: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (2-5, 5.55) has a 9.85 ERA in seven road starts this season. Against Washington, he’s 1-5 with a 4.15 ERA over nine career appearances.
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (10-5, 2.16) looks for his first win since June 5. He’s 8-3 with a 3.39 ERA in 15 starts versus the Marlins.
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