The Nationals took the field on Saturday afternoon hoping to carry over a little momentum from last night’s extra inning win over the Marlins. They started out slowly, but eventually the offense got going, Jordan Zimmermann got locked in, and the bullpen managed to keep from imploding as the Nats won 5-2 behind Bryce Harper‘s 41st home run of the year.
As has been the story this series, the Marlins got on the board early. After Ichiro reached on a fielder’s choice in the top of the first, Christian Yelich, who hit the 2-run homer off of Max Scherzer yesterday, drove him in with a double. Yelich would then come around to score on a single by Justin Bour to give the Marlins an early 2-0 lead.
Both teams then took turns trading threats. The Nationals stranded runners at first and second in the bottom half of the second inning, then, in the top of the fourth, Jordan Zimmermann loaded the bases with two outs before getting a strikeout to work out of the jam.
The Nationals would finally get on the board in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Tyler Moore hit a solo home run to cut Miami’s lead in half.
Then the Marlins starter lost all control, and the Nats made him pay.
Jordan Zimmermann got the rally started with a single. Back-to-back walks by Anthony Rendon and Yunel Escobar loaded the bases. Bryce Harper’s sacrifice fly tied the game at two. Then, the Nationals took the lead when Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond drew the inning’s second set of back-to-back free passes. After five innings, the Nationals held a 3-2 edge.
They would add to that margin in the bottom of the seventh. Following a walk by Escobar, Bryce Harper stepped to the plate against Kyle Barraclough and launched his 41st home run of the year over the left field wall, stretching the lead to 5-2.
That lead looked like it might not stand early in the eighth. Sammy Solis quickly put two runners on with no outs, but Matt Williams called on Blake Treinen, and the right-hander induced a double play and a strikeout to get out of the jam.
The ninth belonged to Jonathan Papelbon, and after putting two on with no outs, he induced a pair of ground balls, including a double play, and he earned the save as the Nationals escaped with a 5-2 win.
With the Mets losing earlier in the day, Washington moves to seven games back of division-leading New York and keeps their elimination number at eight with fourteen games remaining. Tomorrow, they’ll look to lengthen their winning streak to three. Stephen Strasburg (9-7, 3.98 ERA) will try and stay hot as he faces off against Justin Nicolino (3-3, 3.81 ERA).