Three Marlins are tied for the club lead in home runs this season.
Ironically, the only member of that trio that didn’t send a baseball into the Marlins Park stands Monday night won the game with a hit that came pretty close.
Marcell Ozuna drove a 97-mph fastball from reliever Enny Romero deep into the gap in left center field with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to deliver an 8-7 walk-off win over the Nationals.
Ozuna, who has 18 home runs this season, was matched in that category Monday by teammates Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Bour, each of whom tied the game with home runs to help the Marlins (31-37) rally twice.
“A lot of good at-bats and to be able to come back like that is a really good feeling for those guys,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
Romero recorded two quick outs on a pop-up by JT Riddle and a strikeout of Tyler Moore to start the ninth.
But then he walked Dee Gordon on four pitches. After Gordon stole second, Stanton reached on an infield single as Daniel Murphy couldn’t handle a sharply-hit grounder to second. Romero loaded the bases by walking Christian Yelich.
Moments later thanks to Ozuna, the Marlins celebrated a walk-off win that followed two consecutive walk-off losses to the Braves in Atlanta.
The walk-off hit was the third of Ozuna’s career and his first since May 1, 2015 against the Phillies.
“In that moment after I swung at fastballs, 98 [mph], 99 inside, I just said keep my swing short,” Ozuna said. “I just wanted to put good contact on it.”
Ozuna is hitting .327 with 18 home runs and 50 RBI and is fifth in the latest National League All-Star voting as he moves closer to one of the three potential starting spots for outfielders.
“It means a lot to me because I’ve worked hard to accomplish those things and I’m honored the fans are supporting me,” Ozuna said.
The Marlins erased an early 6-0 deficit with a huge third inning highlighted by Bour’s third career grand slam which tied the game at 6.
After the Nationals took a 7-6 lead, the Marlins found the equalizer again with a solo home run in the seventh that Stanton hit off former Marlins’ pitcher Jacob Turner.
Justin Nicolino made his first start since May 30th after a left index finger contusion put him on the disabled list. His return wasn’t pretty and didn’t last very long.
Nicolino gave up home runs to Bryce Harper in the first and Anthony Rendon in the second and then surrendered three unearned runs in the third after he committed a throwing error. Nicolino bobbled the ball after fielding a ground ball from Harper and made an errant throw to second trying to get a force out at second.
The damage was overcome quickly in that big third inning.
Riddle delivered his first career triple to score Derek Dietrich after he singled to lead off the third inning. Riddle scored two batters later on a ground out by Gordon.
Bour fell behind 0-2 in the count to Nationals starter Tanner Roark, who after giving up two runs surrendered up a single to Stanton and walked Yelich and Ozuna to load the bases.
Bour took a couple of balls to even the count and then belted a changeup into the Marlins’ bullpen in right field an estimated 414 feet.
“That was a lot of fun and a great ball game to be a part of,” Bour said. “Down six, we were never really out of it and kept having great at-bats.”
Bour, who’s hit all three of those grand slams in game-tying situations, has picked up right where he left off before landing on the disabled list for 10 days with an ankle contusion. Bour has hit safely in all four games since his return, going 6 for 12 with two home runs and eight RBI.
“It’s just been preparation and getting ready when I was able to go back to Jupiter and get some at-bats,” Bour said. “We’re having fun, winning ball games and I’m just happy to contribute.”