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Nationals 6-4 over Marlins: Yunel Escobar 5 for 5, fifth hit in 8th wins it

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The Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins were back and forth all night, but Yunel Escobar's fifth hit of the game, a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the eighth, ended up being the game win in the Nats' 6-4 victory. Yuni!

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5. Zimmermann vs the Fish: Jordan Zimmermann's last start against the Marlins took place in Miami back on April 24th, in a 3-2 loss to the Nationals' NL East rivals. Washington's 28-year-old right-hander threw four scoreless, but surrendered four hits and two runs in the fifth inning when the Marlins connected for four straight two-out singles.

Mat Latos and Marlins' leadoff man Dee Gordon both droves runs in and Zimmermann threw a total of 23 pitches in the inning after he'd completed the previous four scoreless frames on a total of just 48.

"I don't know what happened," Nats' skipper Matt Matt Williams said when asked about the one inning of the outing in which Zimmermann struggled.

"Most of these guys have a rough time with the slider so I didn't have to throw any curveballs or any changeups. I just stuck with what was working..." -Jordan Zimmermann on last start vs Marlins before tonight

"They hit a couple of balls hard for outs in that inning too, he just elevated the baseball a little bit. The next inning he went back out and settled in and was good."

Zimmermann needed just eight pitches to retire the side in order in his final inning of work in Marlins Park.

That start vs Miami left the Nats' '07 2nd Round pick (7-3) in 18 career starts vs the Marlins, over which he's put up a 3.34 ERA in 110 ⅓ innings pitched over which he's walked 18 (1.47 BB/9), struck out 91 (7.42 K/9) and help hitters to a combined .236/.274/.357 line.

He said afterwards that it was an improvement over his previous outing, a four-walk start vs the Phillies in Nats Park.

"I'd say it was a little better," Zimmermann told reporters. "I obviously didn't walk anyone which is a big plus. Slider was probably my best pitch tonight. I just pounded the zone with the fastball and then threw the slider. Most of these guys have a rough time with the slider so I didn't have to throw any curveballs or any changeups. I just stuck with what was working and it was an okay night."

In his next start after facing the Marlins, Zimmermann went seven innings against the Braves in Atlanta, giving up a total of eight hits and four runs, three earned in seven innings of work which left him with a (2-2) record on the year with a 4.88 ERA, a 3.16 FIP, six walks (1.95 BB/9) and 18 Ks (5.86 K/9) in 27 ⅔ IP over which opposing hitters have put up a .294/.342/.349 line.

His second start of the season against the Marlins took place tonight in Nationals Park.

Martin Prado lined a one-out single to right-center for Miami's first hit off the Auburndale, Wisconsin-born starter, and Giancarlo Stanton lined one to left that Jayson Werth caug-- dropped. E:7. A single to center by Marcell Ozuna in the next at bat brought Prado around from second and made it 1-0 Marlins early. Justin Bour popped to center for out no.2. J.T. Realmuto sent a low liner out to right, but Bryce Harper made a sliding grab to end an 18-pitch first.

Ichiro Suzuki pulled an 0-1 curve through the right side for a leadoff single in the top of the second inning, but he was picked off first and tagged out in a 1-3-6-1 rundown. Adeiny Hechavarria K'd swinging and David Phelps K'd looking in the next two at bats and Zimmermann was through two on 30 pitches after a 12-pitch second.

Dee Gordon popped to short to start the third. Martin Prado grounded out to second. Giancarlo Stanton's groundout to short ended a quick, seven-pitch, 1-2-3 third that left Zimmermann at 37 pitches. An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth left Zimmermann at 48 pitches, and the three groundouts gave him five from fifteen batters and eight straight outs.

Ichiro's chopper to the mound gave Zimmermann nine straight batters set down, but Adeiny Hechavarria's line drive single to center ended that streak. David Phelps bunted the runner over/gave up an out, but Hechavarria was stranded when Dee Gordon went down swinging at an 0-2 curve. 11-pitch frame. 59 total.

Martin Prado lined out to center. Giancarlo Stanton sent a liner to the left-center gap that Denard Span tracked down. Marcell Ozuna's groundout to short ended a six-pitch frame. 65 total.

Justin Bour went the other way with a 3-2 fastball up in the zone outside and powered it out to left for a leadoff solo blast that made it 2-1 Marlins in the seventh. Two outs later, Adeiny Hechavarria punched a single through the right side, but David Phelps K'd swinging to end a 16-pitch frame that left Zimmermann at 81 pitches.

Jordan Zimmermann's Line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 81 P, 58 S, 9/2 GO/FO.

4. David Phelps?: Acquired from the New York Yankees this winter along with Martin Prado in the trade that sent Domingo German, Nathan Eovaldi and Garrett Jones to the "storied franchise", David Phelps, 28, and an '08 Yankees' 14th Round pick, was coming off a (5-5) season in NY in which he put up a 4.38 ERA, a 4.41 FIP, 46 walks (3.66 BB/9) and 92 Ks (7.33 K/9) in 113 IP.

Phelps made 32 appearances overall, and 17 starts for the Yankees, bouncing back and forth between the rotation and bullpen as he had in each of his first three major league seasons with 87 appearances overall and 43 starts since he debuted in 2012.

After starting the season in the Marlins' bullpen this year, Phelps was moved to the rotation when Henderson Alvarez landed on the DL with elbow/shoulder inflammation.

In three starts since the move, the 6'2'' right-hander has put up a 1.53 ERA in three starts and 17 ⅔ IP over which he's walked five (2.55 BB/9) and struck out 11 (5.60 K/9) while holding opposing hitters to a .172/.232/.206 line.

Tonight in Nationals Park he was making his first career appearance against Washington.

His fourth start of the season began with the Marlins ahead, 1-0, but  Yunel Escobar and Jayson Werth hitting back-to-back one-out singles in front of Bryce Harper, who took a base-loading walk, and Ryan Zimmerman hit a sac fly to right in the next at bat as the Nats tied it up at 1-1.

Adeiny Hechavarria made an ill-advised throw to third on a grounder to short by Wilson Ramos, but Martin Prado couldn't get to the bag. Ian Desmond stepped in with the bases loaded back up, but took a called strike three to leave'em loaded. 1-1 after one. 24-pitch frame.

Phelps threw a quick, 13-pitch, 1-2-3 second that left him at 37 total after two.

Yunel Escobar was 2 for 2 tonight after he lined a first-pitch curve by third base and into left for a leadoff single in the bottom of the third. Adeiny Hechavarria robbed Jayson Werth of a single with a diving play at short and a throw to second for the force. Bryce Harper walked again, taking a 3-2 fastball inside for ball four. Ryan Zimmerman stepped in with two on and one out and grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3. 19-pitch frame, 56 overall.

A 79 mph, 3-2 curve got Wilson Ramos swinging. A front door 2-2 bender got Ian Desmond looking. Danny Espinosa's fly to left ended a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth that left Phelps at 69 pitches.

Denard Span lined a single to center with one out in the home-half of the fifth. Yunel Escobar was 3 for 3 after he pushed a jam shot out to right for the second straight single. Jayson Werth popped up first-pitch swinging. Bryce Harper came up with two on and two out... and wal-- grounded out to first. 10-pitch frame. 79 total after five.

Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos and Ian Desmond went down in order in a quick, six-pitch sixth that left Phelps at 85 pitches.

Given a 2-1 lead to work with, Phelps walked pinch hitter Clint Robinson with one out in the Nats' seventh. That was it for him...

• David Phelps' Line: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 93 P, 59 S, 7/3 GO/FO.

3. Zimmermann vs Stanton: Marlins' slugger Giancarlo Stanton is clearly very comfortable hitting in Nationals Park.

Heading into tonight's series opener in Washington, D.C., the 25-year-old, Marlins' 2007 second-round pick had a .324/.418/.710 line (78 for 241), 22 doubles and 23 HRs in 68 games and 282 career plate appearances vs the Nats overall and a .336/.425/.763 line (44 for 131), 14 doubles and 14 home runs in 35 games and 153 PAs in Nationals Park.

Against Nats' starter Jordan Zimmermann, however, after going 0 for 3 with a K last week, Stanton was "just" 7 for 29 overall (.241/.353/.586) with a double and three home runs in 34 PAs between the 2007 second-round picks in their respective careers.

Tonight in Nationals Park, the second matchup of the season between the two took place in the top of the first...

1st AB: Martin Prado singled with one out in the top of the first, bringing Stanton up with a runner on and he lined one to left where Jayson Werth... dropped it. E:7.

2nd AB: The bases were empty when Stanton stepped in for the second time tonight with two down in the third. A 92 mph 1-0 fastball got a weak grounder to short.

3rd AB: Giancarlo Stanton sent a 1-0 slider to left-center in his third at bat, but Denard Span tracked it down for the second out of the Marlins' sixth.

2. Turning Point(s): The Marlins hit a few hard liners off Jordan Zimmermann in the first, but Giancarlo Stanton's line drive to left was right at Jayson Werth, who just missed it. The ball was in and out of his glove, and it put a runner in scoring position for Miami's center fielder, Marcell Ozuna, who drove in a run in the next at bat to put the Marlins up 1-0 early in the series opener in D.C.

The Nationals tied it back up in the bottom of the inning, however, with Yunel Escobar and Werth connecting for back-to-back, one-out singles and Bryce Harper taking a base-loading walk to bring Ryan Zimmerman up for an RBI opportunity he cashed in with a sac fly to center field. 1-1. Harper's walk was his 25th in 27 games and it added to his streak of 20-straight games in which he reached base.

Jordan Zimmermann was cruising, at just 65 pitches after six innings pitched, but his sixth pitch of the seventh was sent out to left by the Marlins' left-handed first baseman, Justin Bour, who powered the fastball out for a solo HR and a 2-1 lead.

Clint Robinson walked with one down in the Nats' seventh, taking a free pass from David Phelps. Marlins' skipper Mike Redmond went to his pen for Mike Dunn, who retired Denard Span, but gave up a two-out single by Yunel Escobar, that sent Robinson's pinch runner, Michael Taylor, around to third. Jayson Werth stepped in next against Fish right-hander Sam Dyson and hit a 98 mph 0-2 heater to center for an RBI single that tied it at 2-2.

Treinen's leadoff walk to Dee Gordon in the Marlins' eighth... Bad idea. Two outs later, he came around to score.

So did Bryan Morris's. After the Nationals fell behind 4-2, they rallied to tie it on a two-run home run by Ian Desmond and took a 6-4 lead when Yunel Escobar's fifth hit of the game drove two in in the bottom of the eighth.

1. The Wrap-Up: A one-out walk to pinch hitter Clint Robinson in the seventh ended David Phelps' night. Mike Dunn came on in relief against Denard Span. Michael Taylor came on to run for Robinson at first. Span popped out to left on the first pitch from Dunn. Yunel Escobar was 4 for 4 tonight after a single to right that sent Taylor around to third, but he couldn't pick up the ball so he had to stop at third as Stanton bobbled it. Sam Dyson came on with runners on the corners and two out to face Jayson Werth, who lined a 98 mph 0-2 fastball to center to bring Taylor in and tie it up at 2-2 after seven.

Blake Treinen came on for the Nats in the eighth and walked the first batter he faced, Dee Gordon. Martin Prado K'd swinging at an 0-2 slider in the dirt, and Wilson Ramos made a strong throw to second with Gordon running. Ramos' throw beat the runner, but Gordon's late slide knocked the ball out of Danny Espinosa's glove. Treinen walked Giancarlo Stanton intentionally to get to Marcell Ozuna with two on and one out. Treinen got ahead 0-2 with sliders, but Ozuna spit on a third. Treinen went back to it again, however, and got a swinging K. Justin Bour stepped in with two out, but Matt Williams went to the pen for the lefty vs lefty matchup, Justin Bour vs Matt Grace? Nope.

Jeff Baker vs Matt Grace instead... and Baker lined a single to right to bring Gordon around. Bryce Harper made a strong thrown in from right, but Ramos couldn't collect it. 3-2 Marlins. 4-2 on an Ichiro grounder to second base that Danny Espinosa couldn't get to in time to toss it to second for a force.

Bryan Morris walked Ryan Zimmerman to start the eighth and one out later Ian Desmond tied it up with a two-run home run to center. 4-4. Tyler Moore singled with two down, and took third on a double to right by Denard Span. Yunel Escobar came up with the go-ahead run 90 ft from home and drove Moore and Span in with his fifth hit of the night. 6-4 Nationals.

Tanner Roark came on for the save? You read that right. With Drew Storen apparently unavailable, Roark got the call and after he gave up a one-out single by Dee Gordon, he popped Martin Prado up... and challenged and struck out Giancarlo Stanton to end it!! Ballgame!!

Nationals now 13-14