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Nationals overcome wild, stormy day to beat Marlins, 7-6
The end of Stephen Strasburg's season was the beginning of a wild, stormy day at Nationals Park Saturday.
Between a 153-minute rain delay, 10 innings, five-man infield, one ejection, six home runs, two errors and one walk-off single, the Nationals' 7-6 victory over the Miami Marlins had it all. But most importantly of all for first-place Washington, the night ended with another win.
Swirling wind and rain suspended play for over 2 1/2 hours in the middle of the ninth inning, with the Nationals down 6-5. Thousands of fans streamed to the Metro and only a couple hundred were at the stadium when the game finally resumed. It was worth the wait, however, when Jayson Werth tied the game in the bottom of the ninth inning with a solo home run to centerfield and Corey Brown won it in the tenth with a single to right.
"It was good," Werth said plainly. "Had a nice little rain delay. Got a little massage, changed clothes, had a chicken salad and tied it up. It was well-written."
The Nationals have battled various forms of adversity all season and continued to do so Saturday. Ross Detwiler surrendered two home runs to the Marlin's first four batters, while Adam LaRoche committed a rare fielding error in the fifth inning.
But when they took the field following the rain delay, manager Davey Johnson said his players were as confident as ever.
"The energy when we were going [out there], they were yelling 'let's get two, let's get two,'" he said. "It was really fun to see that much energy after that long of a delay."
The energy was evident from the Nationals' very first at-bat, when Werth worked a full-count before hitting his fifth home run of the season. It carried over the top of the tenth, when Drew Storen struck out all three Marlins batters. And it culminated in Brown's bloop single that was dropped by outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.
"Obviously you can see the talent we have on this team," Brown said. "It's tough to really pitch around anybody. I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. It felt good I was able to get the job done."
LaRoche got things started in the tenth with a line drive to right field. Ian Desmond moved him to third with a single of his own before the Marlins intentionally walked Danny Espinosa to load the bases. That brought up Brown, who was recently called up from AAA-Syracuse and hadn't registered a hit for the Nationals since July 29, 2011.
Brown said the rain delay didn't influence him. He spent some time in the batting cage, watched college football in the clubhouse and tried to stay relaxed.
"It wasn't like I had cold feet and went up there not quite ready, because in my situation you got to always be ready to pinch-hit at any time," he said. "I had some confidence in myself... I went to the cage when game got going because I knew then I had an opportunity to pinch hit at some point."
Johnson the game was close to being called before general manager Mike Rizzo spoke to the umpires and convinced them to wait 15 minutes. When the team got word that play would resume, they only had 11 minutes to warm up and take the field.
"It turned out to be the right number," Werth said.
More than six hours after Saturday's game began, and eight after Strasburg was shut down, Johnson arrived at his postgame press conference and had very little to say. After all, what could be said? Games like this are often beyond description.
"You guys had to rewrite a few stories, huh?" he said. "What a game."
NOTES: Gio Gonzalez was ejected in the first inning for arguing balls and strikes from the dugout... Bryce Harper, Jesus Flores and Ryan Zimmerman joined Werth with home runs Saturday. The Nationals have now homered a combined 20 times in their last five games... The Marlins used a five-man infield in the 10th inning in an effort to keep the Nationals from scoring with the bases loaded.
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