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Nationals 3-2 Over Marlins: Bryce Harper's 20th Lifts Nats Over Fish

Bryce Harper's 20th home run of 2013 was a 3-run blast off Henderson Alvarez that sailed out over the GEICO sign in right-center field and gave the Washington Nationals a 3-1 lead in what ended up a 3-2 win over the Miami Marlins in Nationals Park.

Greg Fiume

It's impossible to ignore Miami Marlins' slugger Giancarlo Stanton's numbers in Nationals Park. Just about every time the 23-year-old, '07 2nd Round pick out of Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California plays in the nation's capital he adds to his legendary status amongst visitors to the Washington Nationals' home. Stanton started the first game of four between the NL East divisional rivals 34 for 99, .343/.426/.818, with 11 doubles and 12 HRs in 26 games in the nation's capital. The Fish slugger was 34 for 100 overall and 0 for 9 against the Nats' starter after he popped out for the second out of the opening frame, but Miami had already pushed a run across in front of him when Ed Lucas singled to score Donovan Solano from second after the Marlins' infielder doubled off Gio Gonzalez to start tonight's game.

1-0 Marlins after a half an inning in D.C. 18-pitch first for the Nats' left-handed starter.

Henderson Alvarez, the 23-year-old right-hander Miami acquired as part of the 12-player trade with the Toronto Blue Jays in November of 2012, walked Jayson Werth in the bottom of the first, putting two runners on after Ryan Zimmerman had singled with one down. Bryce Harper stepped in next and hit a hanging-a$$ 2-1 slider over the GEICO sign in right-center for a three-run home that made it 3-1 Nationals. After Harper's 20th of 2013 and just the second home run hit off Alvarez in 81 2/3 IP this season, the Marlins' right-hander hit Ian Desmond in the shoulder with a 3-0 pitch. Warnings were issued. Nats' bench coach Randy Knorr got tossed because he hates warnings. Adam LaRoche's one-out single sent Desmond around to third, but Wilson Ramos lined out to first and into an inning-ending DP. 3-1 Nats after one.

Gio Gonzalez gave up a one-out double through second by Marlins' shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria in the top of the second inning. Hechavarria took third on a groundout by Koyie Hill, but was stranded there when a groundout by Henderson Alvarez ended a 22-pitch top of the second that had the Nats' lefty at 40 pitches total after two. 3-1 D.C. Alvarez was up to 35 pitches after a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the inning.

Donovan Solano was 2 for 2 tonight after he singled to start the third, as was Ed Lucas who lined to left in the next at bat. Gio Gonzalez got a 4-6-3 DP out of Christian Yelich for the first two outs of the inning. Gonzalez issued back-to-back walks to Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Ruggiano, loading the bases with two down, but got Placido Polanco to fly out to center to end a 22-pitch inning at 62 total after three. Bryce Harper beat out a grounder to third base with two down in the Nats' third and Ian Desmond followed with a line drive single to left, but Adam LaRoche's fly to center fell into Justin Ruggiano's glove to end the inning with the score still 3-1 Nationals.

Adeiny Hechavarria chased an 0-2 fastball up high for a swinging K. Koyie Hill flew to right on a first-pitch fastball. Henderson Alvarez's groundout to second ended an eight-pitch frame. 70 total for Gio Gonzalez after four. 3-1 Nationals. Anthony Rendon battled Alvarez for 11 pitches in his one-out at bat against the Marlins' starter but K'd looking for the second out of a 17-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth. 66 pitches in four innings for Alvarez.

Christian Yelich K'd swinging at a 1-2 curve to end an 11-pitch top of the fifth by Gio Gonzalez, who was up to 81 pitches overall after five. Denard Span was 0 for 3 tonight after grounding out to short to start the Nats' fifth. Ryan Zimmerman rrrripped a line line to left off Henderson Alvarez with one down in the home-half of the frame, but he was stranded at first two outs later and the Nats took their 3-1 lead into the sixth.

Giancarlo Stanton was 1 for 2 with a walk and a double tonight after he sent a grounder by third and into left for a leadoff double in the Marlins' sixth. Justin Ruggiano beat Ryan Zimmerman to the line too and Stanton scored on the second straight two-base hit to cut the Nats' lead in half, 3-2 Nationals. One out later, Gio Gonzalez picked Ruggiano off second. Adeiny Hechavarria battled Gonzalez for 13 pitches, but popped out to right to end a 24-pitch inning that had the left-hander up to 105.

Ian Desmond lined to right. Adam LaRoche walked. Henderson Alvarez left the game in favor of Ryan Webb, and the Marlins' right-handed reliever got a 5-3 DP out of Wilson Ramos, which left Adam LaRoche at second base with two down. Anthony Rendon lined to right, but Giancarlo Stanton charged in and made a running catch to end the bottom of the sixth inning. Still 3-2 Nationals.

Gio Gonzalez's Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 105 P, 68 S, 4/5 GO/FO

Drew Storen took over for the Nationals in the top of the seventh and retired the first two batters he faced before issuing a two-out walk to Donovan Solano. Ed Lucas hit a fly ball to right field for a two-out single that sent Solano around to third, but Christian Yelich's fly to left ended a 14-pitch inning by Storen that ended with the score still 3-2 Nats. A.J. Ramos took over for the Marlins in the bottom of the inning. Denard Span stepped in with one down, 0 for 3 tonight and in need of a hit to extend his 29-game hit streak, but he K'd swinging for the second out of the frame. Ryan Zimmerman was 3 for 4 tonight after he singled with two down, but he was stranded at first when Jayson Werth flew to right.

Tyler Clippard threw a 2-2 heater by Giancarlo Stanton up high outside. Justin Ruggiano grounded to short for out no.2. Placido Polanco singled by third with two down in the eighth, but Adeiny Hechvarria K'd swinging to end a 21-pitch eighth inning by the Nats' right-handed set-up man. Fish lefty Dan Jennings gave up a leadoff single through short by Bryce Harper. After Ian Desmond struck out, Jennings made a hard throw to first on a swinging bunt by Adam LaRoche to get the second out of the inning. Arquimedes Caminero came on to face Wilson Ramos and gave up a line drive to center that Justin Ruggiano pulled down with a leaping catch. 3-2 Nats after eight.

"Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano!" Rafael Soriano entered the game in the ninth looking to top last season's save total with his 42nd of 2013. Gregg Dobbs grounded to short. Grounder. Desmond. Out. ONE! Logan Morrison walked with one down. Jake Marisnick came on to run at first and Donovan Solano stepped in with the tying run on base. Solano grounded back to the mound and Soriano threw to second for the force and out no.2. Ed Lucas came up with two down took the second walk. Christian Yelich fell behind 0-2 quickly and K'd swinging to end it. 3-2 Nationals final.

Work's done! Untuck that jersey, son!!

Nationals now 82-71