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Washington Nationals blow lead in 9th, lose to Colorado Rockies, 9-8 in series opener...

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Kyle Finnegan blows an 8-7 lead, giving up two in the 9th as the Rockies rally for a 9-8 win in Nationals Park...

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Washington Nationals Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Josiah Gray gave up two runs in the top of the first, but settled in, and had a nice stretch of 11-straight batters set down between the first and fourth innings, then he ended up having issues in the fifth, giving up a two-out walk (his 4th) and a two-run home run that made it a 6-4 game in the Washington Nationals’ favor, before the Colorado Rockies rallied for three more in the sixth, off Gray and reliever Alberto Baldonado to take a 7-6 lead.

Ryan Zimmerman doubled in a pinch hit at-bat in the eighth, however, and scored on an Alcides Escobar single, 7-7, and Josh Bell hit a bases-loaded grounder up the middle and beat the double play throw to first base (with some help from Juan Soto’s elbow), 8-7 Nats.

Kyle Finnegan blew another save opportunity in the top of the ninth, however, giving up a leadoff home run to left by catcher Elias Díaz, 8-8, and an RBI hit to short left by Brendan Rogers that put the Rockies back on top, 9-8.

Gray vs the Rockies: Josiah Gray gave up three hits, six walks, and five runs (all earned), in five innings of work against the Pittsburgh Pirates last time out before tonight, and the 23-year-old right-hander talked afterwards about a lack of command hurting him and leading to all the free passes.

“I think I threw 55% strikes, something like that, incredibly bad,” Gray said. “So just working behind and trying to play catch-up.”

The six walks, he said, were inexcusable.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had more than three in a game in my pro career, so obviously it’s an anomaly and it’s never going to happen again,” Gray assured reporters.

Looking to bounce back, after three rough starts in which he’d given up 17 hits, 10 walks, and 17 ER in 12 IP (12.75 ERA), Gray took the hill tonight in the nation’s capital, and walked the first two Rockies’ hitters he faced, with a wild pitch in-between, and with both Garrett Hampson and Brendan Rodgers on, Charlie Blackmon stepped in and lined a first-pitch fastball to right and off of the fence in front of the bullpen for an RBI double and a 1-0 lead, and a C.J. Cron sac fly one out later made it 2-0 after a 1/2-inning.

After an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 third, Gray was up to nine-straight Rockies’ hitters set down and 43 pitches total on the night, and he added two more outs in the fourth before a walk to Ryan McMahon snapped the streak of retired batters. He stranded that baserunner, but was not as lucky in the fifth.

With the Nationals up 6-2 after four, Gray issued his fourth free pass of the game to Garrett Hampson with two out in the top of the inning, and Brendan Rodgers stepped up, and hit an 0-2 slider out to left for a two-run home run that made it 6-4 in the home team’s favor.

Trevor Story lined a 1-2 fastball down and away to right for an opposite field double to lead off the sixth, and after a fly to left for out No. 2, the Nationals went to the bullpen...

Josiah Gray’s Line: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 94 P, 58 S, 3/5 GO/FO.

Márquez vs the Nationals: Germán Márquez, 26, tossed six scoreless innings against the Philadelphia Phillies last time out before tonight, with the Rockies’ right-hander walking a batter and striking out six in a 93-pitch outing which left him with a 3.89 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 37 walks, and 134 Ks in 23 games and 134 13 IP overall this season.

“I’m always looking for that little thing that I am missing,” Marquez told reporters as quoted by the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders.

“I spent a lot of time in the bullpen looking for that little thing that will make me better.

“It was my tempo and I have been working with ‘Fostie’ [pitching coach Stever Foster] and [bullpen coach] Daryll Scott to get my tempo right. So today was good.”

Tonight in the nation’s capital, Márquez took the mound with a 2-0 lead, and gave up two runs in a two-out rally, with Juan Soto singling, moving up on a Josh Bell walk, and scoring on a grounder up the middle by Yadiel Hernández, on which Rockies’ shortstop Trevor Story made a throwing error, 2-1. Keibert Ruiz stepped in next and lined an RBI double to the gap in left-center field and it was all tied up at 2-2 after one in D.C.

Keibert Ruiz, Carter Kieboom, and Luis García hit back-to-back-to-back, one-out singles in the home-half of the fourth inning, with Ruiz hustling around to score on García’s hit, and one out later, Kieboom and García scored on a two-out, three-run home run to left field by Lane Thomas, who hit an 0-1 slider out for his 5th of the season and a 6-2 lead.

Germán Márquez’s Line: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 Ks, 1 HR, 80 P, 48 S, 6/2 GO/FO.

Lane ThompsOBP: Going into tonight’s game, Lane Thomas had reached base safely in 16 of his last 17 games, with a .300/.390/.557 line, four doubles, one triple, four home runs, 15 RBIs, 11 walks, and 16 runs scored over that stretch, leaving him with a .306/.397/.528 line overall in 29 games since he joined the Nationals in a deadline deal with the Cardinals.

Thomas was 0 for 2 the first two times up, but he hit a three-run home run in the fourth to make it 17 of 18 on base, and singled with two out in the sixth, before walking in the eighth, reaching base in three consecutive plate appearances.

Bullpen Action: Rockies’ righty Ashton Goudeau retired the Nationals in order after taking over in the bottom of the fifth.

Alberto Baldonado took over with a runner on second and one out in the sixth, and gave up an RBI single by Ryan McMahon, who drove Trevor Story in to make it a one-run game, 6-5, in the Nats’ favor. But one out later, Sam Hilliard hit a center-cut 2-2 fastball out to right field to put the Rockies on top, 7-6, with his 11th of 2021.

Righty Jordan Sheffield came on for Colorado in the bottom of the sixth and gave up a two-out single by Lane Thomas, but stranded the only runner to reach base against him.

Mason Thompson retired the Rockies in order in an 11-pitch, seven-strike, 1-2-3 top of the seventh.

Juan Soto walked and Josh Bell singled in the first two plate appearances in the Nationals’ half of the seventh, with righty Tyler Kinley on the mound, and Yadiel Hernández sent a fly out to left that advanced both runners, but Soto got tagged out between third and home when he was running on contact and Keibert Ruiz hit a one-hopper to first. Two down. And Carter Kieboom’s fly to right ended the threat. Still 7-6 Rockies.

Patrick Murphy retired the Rockies in order in the top of the eighth to keep it a one-run game.

Ryan Zimmerman connected a one-out, pinch hit double off righty Jhouly Chacin in the bottom of the eighth, Lane Thomas walked, and Alcides Escobar punched a two-strike single through the right side of the infield to bring Zimmerman in from second and tie it, 7-7 in Nationals Park. That was it for Chacin, who was replaced by lefty Lucas Gilbreath with Juan Soto due up. Soto got up 3-0, and spit on a low fastball, walking to load them up in front of Josh Bell, who sent a grounder to second on which the Rockies got a force on Soto, tagging him on the way to second, but (with help from a little elbow action by Soto) the second baseman, Brendan Rodgers, was a step late with the throw to first, 8-7 Nationals when Thomas scored on the play.

Kyle Finnegan came on for the save opportunity in the ninth and fell behind Elias Díaz, and gave up a game-tying, line drive home run to left on a 2-1 sinker over the middle of the dish, 8-8. Sam Hilliard singled to right in the next at-bat, and stole second in the next at-bat, and a walk to Raimel Tapia put two on with no one out and Garrett Hampson bunted both over in front of Brendan Rodgers, who lined an RBI single to left, 9-8 Rockies.

Carlos Estéves got a save opportunity in the bottom of the ninth, and gave up a leadoff single by Keibert Ruiz. Riley Adams came on to run at first. Carter Kieboom K’d looking, thought it wasn’t a strike. Luis García stepped in next and sent a fly to left for out No. 2.

Ryan Zimmerman got a two-out shot, and worked the count full before singling to right sending Adams around to third.

Lane Thomas? Low liner to second for the force. Rockies win.

Final Score: 9-8 Rockies

Nationals now 60-87