The Marlins only dealt with Max Scherzer for one inning last week.
Scherzer stuck around longer Monday night and yet the Marlins managed to break even after seven innings against the ace that nearly no-hit them in June.
But a manufactured run in the eighth off reliever Jarlin Garcia allowed the Nationals to hand the Marlins a 3-2 loss — their third in four games.
A potentially more damaging loss to the Marlins came in the second inning as they may have lost rookie starting pitcher Chris O’Grady for an extended amount of time.
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O’Grady sustained a right oblique strain and exited the game after only 1 1/3 innings.
“Any time you hear ‘oblique’ you know it’s usually not a two- or three-day thing,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “We’ll find out [Tuesday]. It sounded like he was getting worse as the game went on, but usually obliques are going to take a while.”
Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton continued his torrid home run pace by belting a fastball from Scherzer into the visiting bullpen in left-center field to tie the score at 2 in the sixth.
Stanton’s tying homer was his 37th, which matches his career-high in a season, and pulls him within five of the club record (42) set by Gary Sheffield in 1996. He also totaled 37 in 2012 and 2014.
But in the eighth inning, the Nationals took the lead for good on a two-out, pinch-hit single by Adam Lind. Wilmer Difo led off the inning with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and reached third on a grounder to the right side of the infield.
Sean Doolittle, the Nationals’ recently acquired closer, gave up a single to Miguel Rojas to open the ninth but recorded his sixth save since being traded from Oakland.
“For me, they had good arms before and these guys are,” Mattingly said. “They get Doolittle, a guy who’s been able to close in the past, is having a good year this year. Obviously any time you get new guys in, you have a chance to bolster your staff.”
O’Grady pitched a perfect first inning, striking out two and matching a perfect first by Scherzer, who left their previous matchup last Tuesday after an inning with neck spasms.
But in the second, Marlins trainers came to check on O’Grady, who appeared to be in some discomfort. O’Grady continued, but after throwing two pitches to retire Daniel Murphy on a pop-up, he was taken out of the game.
“I went up in that second inning and just started feeling some cramping in my right side,” O’Grady said. “It just felt like a cramp. After that curveball to Murphy it just tightened up a little bit.”
The Marlins listed him as day-to-day, but recovery time for oblique injuries can sometimes take long. First baseman Justin Bour, O’Grady’s former college teammate at George Mason University, has been on the disabled list since July 25 while dealing with his own oblique strain.
O’Grady, who was 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA in five starts since making his major-league debut on July 8, expressed his disappointment with the outcome since several of his friends from the area were in attendance Monday night.
“I had a bunch of college buddies here and a bunch of people that live in the area,” O’Grady said. “I feel like I let them down and let the team down not going deep into the game again, but you don’t want to mess with an injury. Hopefully it’s nothing big.”
Odrisamer Despaigne gave up two runs including a solo homer to Bryce Harper to lead off the fourth inning, but gave the Marlins a much-needed 3 2/3 innings and kept the game close. Despaigne, who has dealt with an oblique injury before, sympathized with O’Grady.
"The oblique doesn’t appear to be serious, but it’s something that’s very uncomfortable," Despaigne said. "I dealt with something like it in spring training and I feel for Chris having to deal with that."
Harper’s 412-footer to right-center field was his 23rd all-time against the Marlins — the most he’s hit against any club — and his 150th career home run.
Despaigne cut the Marlins’ deficit himself in the fifth with a two-out single off Scherzer on a 1-2 count. It was Despaigne’s first career RBI, third hit in 58 career at-bats and first hit since June 7, 2015, when he pitched for the Padres.
"I just put a good swing on it and got my first RBI and it happened to be against one of the best pitchers in the game," Despaigne said. "But unfortunately we weren’t able to get the win."