The Washington Nationals aren’t enjoying the kind of banner season folks thought they would, sputtering along in third place with a .500 record when most figured they’d be ruling the roost in the National League East.
You’d never know it when they play the Marlins, though.
For the seventh time in eight meetings this season, the Nationals hung a loss on the Marlins, who frittered away an early 3-0 lead on Thursday in an eventual 10-3 defeat.
The bad news for the Marlins: they still have 11 games remaining against Washington.
“I think there’s always a club you don’t match as well with,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly of the Nationals, who have gone 20-7 against the Marlins over the past two seasons. “But we’ve had our chances.”
The Marlins figured to have caught a break -- at least on paper -- when scheduled starter Stephen Strasburg was placed on the disabled list earlier in the day Thursday and replaced on the mound by journeyman lefty Tommy Milone.
And for one inning, anyhow, it looked like it would play out in Miami’s favor. The Marlins produced three runs on four hits in the first off Milone, who had spent the entire season at Triple A Syracuse.
But then Milone did his best Strasburg imitation, whiffing six batters over the next four scoreless innings, and the Nationals began to chip away before blowing it open late.
Dan Straily gave up solo homers in the fourth to Trea Turner and Juan Soto and a game-tying double in the sixth to Ryan Zimmerman. The Nationals added three more runs in the seventh off Adam Conley and four more in the ninth off Ben Meyer. All told, the Nationals totaled extra-base hits, with Turner going 3 for 6 with a single, two-run triple and home run.
“He’s been hitting us every time it seems,” Mattingly said. “He’s a tough guy for us.”
For Conley, it was his worst outing since allowing five runs to the Nationals in Washington on July 5.
“It just seems for whatever reason, these guys have kind of had a knack for doing that to me,” Conley said.
But the real problem for the Marlins wasn’t their pitching. It was their lineup, which did little after the first. Milone settled in and picked up his first major league win since April 14 of last season when he was with the Brewers. And the Marlins couldn’t do anything with the four Nationals relievers who followed Milone to the mound.
The Marlins mustered only four hits over the final seven innings, the same number they recorded in the first inning alone.
“These guys have been tough for us in general,” Mattingly said of the Nationals.