The Washington Nationals opened up their series with the Miami Marlins by scoring six runs in the first three innings, but Tanner Roark and the bullpen blew the game and handed the home team an 8-7 win.
Bryce Harper didn’t wait long to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games, smacking a laser of a two-run homer just above the wall in right field in the top of the first.
The next inning, Anthony Rendon saw Harper’s exit velocity and raised him a launch angle, crushing a moonshot into the heart of the art sculpture in center to put the Nats up 3-0.
A double off the bat of Daniel Murphy brought home another run in the fourth, but he would be outshined later in the inning by Michael Taylor’s two-out, bases-loaded single that scored two more.
The unsettling season of Tanner Roark continued in the the bottom of the third, when the Marlins exploded for six straight runs to knock the right-hander out of the game before he could even escape the frame.
Washington fired back in the fifth when Stephen Drew — who was pinch hitting for Rendon — knocked a double into the left field corner to score Ryan Zimmerman from first and made it a 7-6 ballgame.
Matt Grace and Oliver Perez combined to post four scoreless innings in relief, but the lead wouldn’t hold all the way through.
Giancarlo Stanton wouldn’t go down quietly, hitting a solo home run in the seventh off former teammate Jacob Turner to tie the game.
Enny Romero pitched a scoreless eighth, but he loaded the bases with two outs for Marcell Ozuna in the bottom of the ninth.
Ozuna then hit a ball deep into the left-center field gap and the Marlins took the first game of the series.
Nationals now 42-28.
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:
• There was a lot of scoring happening very quickly in this one, folks. The Nationals got things moving in the first when Ryan Raburn hit a one-out single ahead of Bryce Harper. Harper entered the game with just one home run off a lefty this season, but he took full advantage of southpaw Justin Nicolino making his first start since coming off the 10-Day Disabled List.
Harper launched his 18th homer of the year, hitting the ball on a rope right above the wall in the right field corner to swiftly make it 2-0.
• Anthony Rendon would not be outmatched by his teammate, taking Nicolino deep as well in the second. The third baseman’s solo shot was a no-doubter off the bat, landing in the water of the Marlins’ art sculpture in dead center field.
• Washington appeared to break things open in the third. Consecutive errors by the Miami defense put runners on first and second with one out for Daniel Murphy. Looking to join in on the scoring parade, Murphy promptly doubled to bring home a run. Nicolino then intentionally walked Rendon to load the bases, and Michael Taylor made him pay two batters later with a two-run single that put the Nats up 6-0.
• Justin Nicolino’s Line: 3.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 HR, 61 P, 39 S, 5/2 GO/FO
• Oh, how the tide turns. Tanner Roark was coming off a game in which he allowed seven earned runs in just five innings of work. This time, however, he wouldn’t even make it out of the third. Derek Dietrich hit a leadoff single, then scored when J.T. Riddle hit a deep line drive to left center that Taylor just missed on a dive.
Riddle was able to stretch that hit into a triple, and that opened the floodgates. Dee Gordon scored Riddle on a groundout, then a single and back-to-back walks loaded the bases for Justin Bour. The first baseman then awakened the Marlins’ “crowd” with a grand slam into the Marlins’ bullpen to tie the game.
J.T. Realmuto then followed with a single, ending Roark’s day. Matt Grace was called on to get the Nats out of the inning, and he did just that by forcing Dietrich to line out to center.
• Tanner Roark’s Line: 2.2 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 0 Ks, 1 HR, 69 P, 41 S, 5/1 GO/FO
• Rendon made a diving stop in the bottom of the third to limit Giancarlo Stanton to a single. On the play he apparently hurt his neck, forcing Dusty Baker to lift him for a pinch hitter when his spot in the order came up in the fifth. Stephen Drew stepped to the plate with one out and Ryan Zimmerman on base, but wasted no time by doubling into the left field corner to score Zimmerman from first and put the Nats ahead, 7-6.
• Grace stayed in the game through the fifth inning and worked out of some trouble to post a few zeroes on the scoreboard. He gave up a bunt single and stolen base to Gordon in the fourth but emerged unscathed. In the fifth, he hit Christian Yelich in the forearm with a pitch then allowed a single up the middle to Marcell Ozuna.
Taylor would bail out his pitcher by throwing out Ozuna at third — a play that needed replay review to get right. Grace then forced Bour to ground out and Realmuto to fly out to end the inning.
• Next up out of the Nats’ pen was Oliver Perez, who had allowed just one run in his previous 10 appearances. He would keep the good times rolling, recording four outs — including two via the strikeout — and giving up just one hit to get the Nats into the seventh still up by a run.
• In true Nats’ bullpen fashion, Washington would not be able to hold its tight lead forever. After Perez departed with one out in the seventh, Jacob Turner entered the game to face to Stanton. As you probably could’ve guessed by reading that sentence, Stanton homered to right and tied the game at 7-7.
Turner was later able to induce a smooth double play to end the inning, but the damage was done and the Nats’ offense had its work cut out for it.
• Washington was unable to get much going in the eighth, bringing up Enny Romero to keep the game tied. Bour hit a blooper into shallow center that Murphy, Harper and Taylor all convened on but none called.
The ball dropped between the three of them to put Bour on with nobody out. Romero recovered, however, forcing Realmuto to ground into a double play and striking out Dietrich to keep the Nats in the game to start the ninth.
• The heart of the Nats’ order was due up first in the ninth. Harper drew a leadoff walk, but Zimmerman struck out on a check swing and Murphy popped out on the infield. That brought up Drew, but he’d be unable to come through and struck out to end the frame.
• Romero came back out for the ninth and retired both Riddle and pinch hitter Tyler Moore (yes, the one) before walking Gordon to bring up Stanton. Gordon swiped second base and the Nats opted not to intentionally walk the slugger. Stanton hit a one-hop bullet right at Murphy that he wasn’t able to handle and Yelich walked to load the bases for Ozuna.
Ozuna doubled into the gap in left-center and the Marlins stole one, 8-7.