Marlins 8, Nationals 2

Miami Marlins’ offense comes alive in easy victory over Nationals

 

Adeiny Hechavarria’s three-run homer highlighted a four-run fourth inning as the Marlins scored a season high in runs.

a1fernandez@MiamiHerald.com

The Marlins Park home run sculpture still works.

Adeiny Hechavarria’s fourth-inning blast to left field Tuesday night activated it for the first time this season.

And it turned on the team’s offense in an outburst it has desperately needed for the first two-plus weeks of the season.

Hechavarria’s three-run homer highlighted a four-run fourth inning that was followed by a three-run fifth and led to a season-high eight runs and an 8-2 victory over the Nationals in front of an announced crowd of 16,216.

“I was beginning to think the sculpture wasn’t plugged in,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “It’s definitely working now.”

The Marlins (3-11), who had scored only 23 runs through their first 13 games, had two multirun innings and posted another in Monday’s 10-3 loss. They had only two multirun innings in their first 12 games. They also finished with 11 hits, marking only the fourth double-digit hit game this season and first at home.

It was only the fifth time this season the Marlins scored first and took a lead in a game. Every Marlins starter in Tuesday’s game, except Placido Polanco, came in hitting .238 or lower.

Hechavarria, who entered the game hitting .178, crushed a 1-1 pitch from Nationals starter Dan Haren deep to left field for a three-run home run. The drive traveled an estimated 416 feet.

“I felt like I did something big for the team,” Hechavarria said. “You could feel the emotion of joy in the dugout from the players to the managers.’’

Hechavarria, who hit two homers in 41 games played last year with the Blue Jays, had no home runs or RBI this season before Tuesday.

His home run ended a drought of nine games without a home run, tying the franchise record set during the team’s 1993 inaugural season. It also ended a seven-game drought at home that also matched a franchise record and was the longest at home for a team since the Expos opened the season without hitting a homer for seven games in 2004.

“You can’t tell the future, so I don’t know what will happen tomorrow,” Hechavarria said. “But I think this was a key game to show that this is a good team.’’

The Marlins may have found a good-luck charm before the game.

A few players, including Justin Ruggiano and Giancarlo Stanton, carried around a fake oversized bat during batting practice Tuesday. Redmond joked about it possibly being a good-luck charm.

“The bat might have to come with us on the road trip,” Redmond said. “I’ll sit it next to me on the plane.”

The offensive fireworks began after former gold glove third baseman Ryan Zimmerman made an errant throw to first, allowing Polanco to reach base with one out.

Greg Dobbs followed with a single and Ruggiano blooped a single to left to score the game’s first run before Hechavarria’s homer.

All four runs in the fourth inning were unearned thanks to the Zimmerman error.

Haren couldn’t maintain control in the fifth inning as the Marlins added more.

Haren loaded the bases after giving up singles to Alex Sanabia, Juan Pierre and Polanco. He then walked Dobbs to force in a run and was pulled by manager Davey Johnson. Haren entered the game with a 9.00 ERA in his first two starts, and lasted only 4 1/3 innings after giving up seven runs (three earned).

Ruggiano broke the game open with a double down the left-field line off reliever Craig Stammen to score Pierre and Polanco and give the Marlins a 7-0 cushion and their largest lead in a game this season.

Sanabia (2-1) had a much better home start than his last against the Braves in which he gave up six runs on eight hits in an 8-0 loss. Sanabia went six innings Tuesday and kept the Nationals off the board for the first five.

• The Marlins optioned catcher Kyle Skipworth to Triple A New Orleans after the game and plan to activate infielder Joe Mahoney from the disabled list.

• Outfielder Austin Kearns, who was hospitalized Sunday after complaining of an irregular heartbeat, was medically cleared to play prior to Tuesday’s game. Kearns pinch-hit in the sixth inning and struck out, remaining hitless for the season.

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