An hour and twelve minute rain delay last night knocked both starters out of the game. Davey Johnson told reporters that for Washington Nationals' starter Stephen Strasburg, it was a combination of the delay and the right-hander's back tightening up on him as he tried to keep loose throwing behind the scenes. "After about, I guess it was 45 minutes," Johnson said, "he was going down and playing some catch and he was getting a little bit stiff in the back and so if it was an hour and then it kept raining so then it became an hour and it was a no-brainer at that point. But generally speaking, the maximum for me is about an hour, but the fact that he got a little bit stiff in the back, he's not going to even hit in that situation."
Strasburg was at bat when the umpires finally decided the downpour in the nation's capital was too strong. The only positive? The abbreviated outing might allow the Nationals to go back to their 25-year-old starter sooner than they normally would. "We'll see how he is tomorrow and the next day," the Nats' skipper told reporters after last night's 4-3 win, "but he could come back Sunday. So, we'll just have to see how we get through tomorrow and the next day."
The Nationals led 2-0 after four last night.
Craig Stammen, in his third inning of relief work, gave up a solo home run by Marlins' catcher Jeff Mathis in the first at bat of the fifth before completing the inning with Washington still up 2-1.
Ryan Mattheus took over in the sixth and went to a full count with Giancarlo Stanton, who improved to 34 for 95 in his career in Nationals Park with his 17th home run of 2013 and his 12th HR in 25 games in the Nats' home park. Mathis followed up on his home run with an RBI single that gave the Marlins a 3-2 edge, but that lead lasted all of two outs before Jayson Werth hit a leadoff home run off Miami right-hander Arquimedes Caminero in the bottom of the sixth to knot things up at 3-3.
"Didn't really go after them like he can," Davey Johnson said of Mattheus' outing. "Then I think it was a split that was hit nine miles [by] Stanton. 3-2 split that didn't do anything. I like where [Mattheus] is at. He'll be all right, hopefully."
Drew Storen came on in the seventh inning, and immediately put two runners on, giving up a leadoff single by Ed Lucas and a four-pitch walk to Marlins' rookie Christian Yelich. That brought Giancarlo Stanton back up with two runners on and earned Storen a visit from Steve McCatty.
"Well, I sent McCatty out there and he told him the magic words," Davey Johnson joked after the game, "and [Storen] came from 2-0 to Stanton, struck him out and it was easy going from there." Storen got Stanton to chase a 2-2 slider off the edge outside and then popped up the next two batters for a scoreless seventh.
"What were the magic words?" a reporter asked the Nats' skipper.
"We don't ever disclose those," Johnson said with a laugh.
With the score still tied at 3-3, the Nationals got a leadoff walk Denard Span in the bottom of the seventh. Two outs later, with Span on second after a wild pitch by Marlins' reliever Mike Dunn, the Fish decided to walk Jayson Werth, who was 4 for 5 with a double and a home run vs Dunn in their respective careers. Ian Desmond stepped in next and lined a first-pitch slider to left to give the Nationals a 4-3 lead.
"He's had a very good consistent year just like he did last year," Johnson said of Desmond. "Getting big hits. He's in a good position right now. He's not getting beat with the fastball. And he's taking the fastball outside the other way. He's a tough out. I understood what [the Marlins] did because I think Werth is 4 for 5 off him with a bomb or so [off Dunn]. So, I probably would have, just don't give in to him, try to get him out. But it was nice ballgame since we won it."
After Storen's scoreless seventh, it was Tyler Clippard with a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 eighth and Rafael Soriano with a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 ninth to give the Nationals two in-a-row over the Fish and five-straight against the Marlins in D.C. this season. The Nats try to make it three straight over Miami tonight when Gio Gonzalez takes the mound in the series finale.
• AUDIO: NATS NIGHTLY = District Sports Page + FBB:
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