Coming off the most successful weeklong trip in team history, Mike Hill said Monday the Marlins weren’t planning on being sellers at Thursday’s trade deadline.
And on Monday night the players showed why the front office isn’t ready to quit on them just yet.
Trailing 6-0 with two outs in the seventh and then 6-3 to open the ninth, the Marlins rallied for their biggest victory of the season, a walk-off 7-6 win over the division-leading Washington Nationals in front of 20,027 at Marlins Park.
Adeiny Hechavarria tripled home Marcell Ozuna with the tying run following a gutsy 11-pitch at-bat against Nationals closer Rafael Soriano, and then scored the winner on Jeff Baker’s two-out line drive off the base of the left-field wall.
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The comeback was the biggest of the season for the Marlins and marked the first time since June 28, 2003, at Boston they trailed by six runs or more in the seventh inning and won the game.
“Yeah, I’ve got no pop,” joked Baker, who extended his career-long hitting streak to 11 games and has two of the Marlins’ eight walk-off hits this season. “I knew I hit it well, but I’ve had some bad luck this year so if [left fielder Bryce Harper] caught it, I wasn’t going to be surprised. I was obviously glad he didn’t.”
Monday’s win was the Marlins’ fifth in a row — matching a season high — and eighth in nine games. More important, it trimmed their deficit in the National League East to six games.
After being shut out for six innings by Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann, the Marlins finally broke through with a pair of runs with two outs in the seventh, thanks in part to a bad decision by Nationals right fielder Nate McLouth. A defensive replacement for Jayson Werth, McLouth made a diving attempt to catch a sinking line drive off the bat of Garrett Jones and the ball got by him, allowing Giancarlo Stanton to race all the way around from first.
Jones, credited with an RBI triple, came home to make it 6-2 when Ozuna singled off the glove of diving third baseman Anthony Rendon.
“Who’s to say what play was the turning point, but I know that sitting on the bench guys were fired up when we scored those couple of runs,” manager Mike Redmond said. “I think that gave us the confidence.”
Down 6-2, the Marlins opened the eighth inning with a pair of hits off reliever Ross Detwiler. But the rally quickly died. After Baker drove in a run with a pinch-hit ground out to short, Stanton chased a Drew Storen slider for strike three.
A frustrated Stanton flipped his bat back toward the Marlins dugout. It was his eighth strikeout in his past 10 at-bats.
But the big rally was coming in the ninth. Casey McGehee started it with a walk. Jones doubled and Ozuna drove in the first run off Soriano with a single to center.
After Jarrod Saltalamacchia brought the Marlins to within a run on a sacrifice fly to right, Hechavarria came to the plate and delivered his heroics.
“That was definitely the biggest at-bat of the game, just to be able to bring it to a closer like Soriano and keep fighting, fighting,” Saltalamacchia said of Hechavarria. “He drove it exactly where we needed.”
Washington used a five-run sixth inning to build its lead. Down 2-0, Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi was yanked with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, and got little in the way of relief from Dan Jennings.
After a bad bounce on what appeared to be a tailor-made, inning-ending double play led to Hechavarria’s fifth error of the season and a Washington run, Jennings walked in a run and then gave up a two-run single to center field by Danny Espinosa.
That 6-0 lead looked like it was going to be more than enough for Zimmermann, who was on cruise control most of the night after being staked to a 1-0 lead in the first on an Adam LaRoche sacrifice fly.
Zimmerman retired 14 of the first 15 Marlins he faced before Saltalamacchia singled to left in the fifth. But even that turned into a disaster for the Marlins when Saltalamacchia took off for second on an errant throw from the outfield and still got gunned down trying to advance.
But the Marlins pulled off their biggest come-from-behind win of the season.
Their eight walk-off wins are the second-most in the majors behind only the Pirates.
“That’s what I love about this team,” Saltalamacchia said. “... There’s no quit.’’