Miami Marlins' slugger Giancarlo Stanton started tonight's game 7 for 17 (.412/.474/1.000) with four doubles and two home runs off Washington Nationals' right-hander Stephen Strasburg in the NL East rivals' respective major league careers. Stephen Strasburg's outing in Nationals Park began with a high fastball to Justin Ruggiano that went all the way to the backstop. His second pitch was popped up by the Marlins' outfielder, to Ruggiano's counterpart in center, Denard Span. Strasburg hit the outside corner with a letter-high 1-2 heater that got Ed Lucas looking for out no.2, but a two-out walk to Christian Yelich brought Stanton to the plate with a runner on in the first. Strasburg "missed" with an 0-2 fastball that home plate umpire Scott Barry thought was outside, so he came back with a 96 mph four-seamer inside and got Stanton swinging to end a 15-pitch opening frame.
Nats' leadoff man Denard Span had an 11-game hit streak (18 for 44) when he sent a grounder back up the middle and off Marlins' shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria's glove. Seeing it bounce into center, Span rounded first and headed for second and had a hustle double when he slid in safely. Ryan Zimmerman's groundout to the right side of the infield moved Span over to third, but Bryce Harper K'd swinging through a full-count change for out no.2 of the Nats' first and Henderson Alvarez got a groundout to third from Jayson Werth to end a 14-pitch bottom of the inning. 0-0 after one in D.C.
Stephen Strasburg needed just seven pitches, five of them strikes in a quick, 1-2-3 top of the second which had him through two scoreless on 22 total.
Ian Desmond was the second straight leadoff runner to reach for the Natsionals when he singled off Henderson Alvarez's leg for an infield hit. Adam LaRoche took an 0-2 two-seamer inside for a called strike three and out no.1. Wilson Ramos chased a 1-2 two-seamer out of the zone away for a swinging K. But as the skies over the Navy Yard opened up, locally grown hero Steve Lombardozzi lined a two-out RBI double to the left-center gap to bring Desmond around and make it 1-0 Nationals before there was a rain delay...
... the game was delayed for over an hour (1 hr, 12 minutes) so neither starter returned when action resumed. Ryan Webb took over with an 0-1 count against Strasburg's replacement, Scott Hairston, who K'd swinging to end a long second inning. 1-0 Nats.
Craig Stammen took over for Washington in the top of the third. Justin Ruggiano took an 0-1 curve to left for the Marlins' first hit of the game with two down in the inning and Ed Lucas hit an 0-1 slider to right in the next at bat for another single that brought Christian Yelich up with two on and two out, but a chopper up the middle allowed Ian Desmond to get the third and final out at second. 1-0 Nats after two and a half. Ryan Zimmerman reached on a swinging bunt with one down in the Nationals' half of the third inning then scored from first when Bryce Harper got up 3-0, got the green light and connected for an opposite field RBI double to the left-center gap. 2-0 Nationals after three on Harper's 19th two-base hit.
Marlins' infielder Donovan Solano took a first-pitch fastball from Craig Stammen through short for a two-out single in the Marlins' fourth, but a weak groundout by Adeiny Hechavarria ended the Nats' right-handed reliever's second scoreless inning of work after only nine pitches. Solano slipped and fell while fielding a Wilson Ramos' grounder up the middle with two down in the Nationals' fourth, letting the catcher on, but Steve Lombardozzi K'd looking to end the fourth with the score still 2-0 Nats.
Jeff Mathis cut Washington's lead in half with one swing on a 1-0 fastball from Craig Stammen in first at bat of the Marlin's fifth. Mathis' 4th HR of 2013 landed in the visitor's bullpen in left, making it 2-1 Nats. A one-out double by Justin Ruggiano earned Stammen a visit from pitching coach Steve McCatty, but the Nats' right-hander got the next two outs to preserve the Nationals' 2-1 lead through four and a half. Anthony Rendon hit for Stammen in the bottom of the fifth, or walked, more accurately, then took second on Denard Span's sac bunt/failed attempt to bunt for a hit. Rendon was running and out at third, however, when Ryan Zimmerman grounded to short for the second out of the inning, and Bryce Harper's groundout to second ended the fifth.
Giancarlo Stanton improved to 34 for 95 with 11 doubles and 12 HRs in his career in Nationals Park with a solo home run to straight center on a 3-2 slider from Ryan Mattheus in the top of the sixth inning. 2-2 game. Back-to-back singles by Logan Morrison and Donovan Solano followed, but Morrison got himself caught in a rundown and tagged out when he broke for home on a grounder to third by Adeiny Hechavarria. Jeff Mathis stepped in with one out and runners on the corners, and hit a bloop single to left on a 2-2 fastball to make it a 3-2 game in the Marlins' favor. Pinch hitter Greg Dobbs grounded out to first for the second out of the frame and Justin Ruggiano grounded out for the third, but Miami took the lead...
Jayson Werth tied it up at 3-3 with a solo home run to center in the first at bat of the Nationals' sixth when he took an 0-1 fastball from Marlins' right-hander Arquimedes Caminero to center for his 20th HR of the year. Ian Desmond singled to right in the next at bat and took second two outs later on a groundout by Wilson Ramos. Steve Lombardozzi walked with two down and Desmond stole third on ball four, but pinch hitter Chad Tracy K'd swinging to strand two runners and keep it tied at 3-3 after six in D.C.
Drew Storen took the mound in the top of the seventh and gave up an opposite field single by Ed Lucas in the first at bat. Storen fell behind Christian Yelich 3-0, and walked the Marlins' rookie to put two on for Giancarlo Stanton. Storen fell behind 2-0 to Stanton as well, but got two foul balls with fastballs to get to a 2-2 count. A 2-2 slider outside got Stanton chasing for the first out of the inning. Logan Morrison popped out to second on the first pitch he saw for out no.2 and Donovan Solano did the same. 20-pitch frame for Storen.
Marlins lefty Mike Dunn took over for the Fish and issued a leadoff walk to Denard Span. Ryan Zimmerman popped out to Giancarlo Stanton in foul territory in right. A botched pick attempt with Bryce Harper up allowed Span to take second, but Harper K'd swinging for the second out of the frame. Jayson Werth got the intentionals from the Marlins to bring Ian Desmond up, and Desmond took the IBB personally and lined to left field to bring Span around and make it 4-3 Nats after seven innings.
Tyler Clippard got Adeiny Hechavarria swinging to start the eighth, throwing a 2-2 fastball by the Fish infielder. Another 2-2 heater up high got Jeff Mathis swinging. Placido Polanco popped up to the infield and it was 4-3 Nats after seven and a half. WIlson Ramos singled to start the Nationals' eighth off Marlins' righty A.J. Ramos, but the Nationals' catcher was forced out at second two outs later when Tyler Moore rolled a grounder to third. With Moore on first, Span walked to put two on for Ryan Zimmerman, who K'd looking to end the eighth.
"Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano!" Rafael Soriano came out for the ninth looking for save no. 35 of 2013. Justin Ruggiano chased a 2-2 fastball up high! ONE! Ed Lucas tried to bunt his way on, but Rafael Soriano barehanded it off the wet grass and threw to first for out no.2. Christian Yelich stepped up with two down and rolled one out to second. Grounder. Desmond. Out. Ballgame.
Work's done. Untuck that jersey, son!!