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Washington Nationals drop series opener to Miami Marlins, 3-2; bases-loaded walk & hit-by-pitch the difference...

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Miami’s Marlins had lost four straight and 9 of 10 before they beat the Washington Nationals tonight in the series opener in Marlins Park, 3-2.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

A bases-loaded walk and hit-by-pitch on consecutive pitches, with the free pass by Aníbal Sánchez, and the HBP by Matt Grace, forced in two runs in the bottom of the sixth, giving the Miami Marlins a 3-1 lead in what ended up a 3-2 win over the Washington Nationals in the series opener in South Florida.

Sánchez vs Miami: Three starts into his 14th major league campaign, Aníbal Sánchez was (0-1) with a 4.86 ERA, seven walks, 11 Ks, and a .269/.338/.478 line against in 16 23 IP as he headed into tonight’s outing.

Back in Miami, FL tonight, where he made his MLB debut in 2006, after he was acquired by the Marlins in seven-player trade with the Boston Red Sox, who’d signed the pitcher out of Venezuela in 2001, Sánchez took the mound with a 1-0 lead and tossed a scoreless first, but back-to-back singles in the bottom of the second set the Marlins up with runners on first and third, and a grounder to third, on which Ryan Zimmerman committed an error, brought in the tying run, 1-1.

Sánchez held the Marlins to one run on three hits (walking three) through five, but back-to-back one-out hits, a double by Miguel Rojas, and an infield single by Isaac Galloway, set the Marlins up with runners on the corners, and a 1/2-inning after the Nationals failed to bring a runner in from third with one down, the Fish loaded the bases on a bunt back to the mound by Rosell Herrera, when Sánchez tossed it home thinking it was a squeeze, only to have the runner retreat to third.

Martin Prado stepped in next, with the sacks full, and the infielder (who was 15 for 36, for a .417/.432/.528 career line, a double and a home run off Sánchez) took a bases-loaded walk to make it 2-1 Marlins and end the Nats’ starter’s night...

Aníbal Sánchez’s Line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 Ks, 90 P, 52 S, 7/2 GO/FO.

Mr. Smith vs Washington: Marlins’ lefty Caleb Smith made 16 starts in Miami’s rotation in 2018, though he somehow avoided facing the Washington Nationals.

In his first three outings for the Fish this season, the southpaw put up a 2.65 ERA, six walks, 21 Ks, and a .153/.231/.322 line against in 17 IP, and he took the mound tonight coming off a scoreless outing against the Philadelphia Phillies in which he held Philly hitters to a hit and three walks over six innings on the mound in Marlins Park.

Smith gave up a run early, with Adam Eaton bunting his way on, taking second on a pitch in the dirt, and scoring on a one-out, opposite field, RBI single by Juan Soto, who sent a slider outside to left field for a 1-0 lead early in the series opener.

It was 1-1 after two, and Smith held the Nats to one run on five hits through six, striking out eight of 22 batters faced...

Caleb Smith’s Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 Ks, 87 P, 61 S, 7/2 GO/FO.

Rendon is Streaking: Anthony Rendon doubled in his second at bat on Thursday, extending his hit streak to 16-straight games, over which the 28-year-old third baseman was 25 for 62 (.403/.472/.839) with nine doubles, six homers, eight walks, and 13 Ks.

Rendon had put up multi-hit games in eight of the 16 games during the streak heading into the series opener in South Florida.

Rendon was hitless in his first two at bats in Miami, but he doubled to left field on a 1-0 change from Caleb Smith in the top of the sixth, extending the streak to 17-straight, and took third on a wild pitch ... but was stranded there. But the streak lives!!!

BULLPEN ACTION: Matt Grace inherited a bases-loaded, one-out jam from Aníbal Sánchez, after Sánchez walked Martin Prado with the bases loaded to force in the go-ahead run, 2-1, and Grace hit Curtis Granderson with his first pitch he threw, 3-1. Grace got out No. 2 on a line drive to second by Neil Walker, and Joe Ross got a lineout to right from Brian Anderson to end the rally.

Nick Anderson took over for Miami in the top of the seventh, and gave up a one-out home run on a 96 MPH first-pitch fastball to Brian Dozier that bounced off the signage above the left field fence, 3-2.

Ross came back out for the Nationals in the bottom of the seventh, and worked around a one-out single to keep it a one-run game.

Drew Steckenrider took the mound for the Fish in the top of the eighth, and retired two batters, but a two-out walk to Anthony Rendon forced Marlins’ skipper Don Mattingly to bring on lefty Adam Conley vs Juan Soto with the potential tying run at first base, and Conley popped him to preserve the lead.

Ross came back out in the bottom of the eighth as well, and recorded two outs before Davey Martinez went the pen again for Tony Sipp vs Curtis Granderson.

Sipp got up 1-2 on Granderson, and struck him out to keep it a one-run game after eight.

Sergio Romo came for the save in the ninth and retired the Nationals in order to end it...

Nationals now 9-9