Trying to sum up the Miami Marlins’ 7-4, 10-inning win over the Washington Nationals on Sunday can be tricky.
It began with Pablo Lopez having a no-hitter through six innings, was tied an inning later, and then saw four lead changes — including a go-ahead home run by each team — over the final three innings with Miami eventually ending on top.
“The biggest thing,” Lopez said, “is getting the team win, regardless of individual performances, regardless of whatever is going on. ... I think just the fact that everyone came out with individual performances to help everyone out was just great.”
It started with Lopez, who went to the mound in the seventh inning having not allowed a hit despite not having his best command. He maneuvered around traffic caused by walks and hit batters with the help of his defense to help Miami nurse its early 2-0 lead created by a Jon Berti RBI fielder’s choice in the third inning and a Luke Williams home run in the fifth.
Things got interesting after that.
The condensed version:
▪ The seventh inning: The Nationals broke up Lopez’s no-hit bid, then broke up the shutout, then tied the game all in a span of six batters.
▪ The eighth inning: The Nationals took the lead on a Josh Bell solo home run on a hanging Steven Okert slider.
▪ The top of the ninth: Marlins outfielder Jesus Sanchez, down to the team’s final strike, hit a go-ahead two-run home run.
▪ The bottom of the ninth: Victor Robles hits a two-out game-tying single against Tanner Scott.
▪ The top of the 10th: The Marlins led off the inning with four consecutive hits from Jacob Stallings, Brian Anderson, Berti and Joey Wendle to score three runs.
▪ The bottom of the 10th: Dylan Floro threw a perfect inning to earn his first save of the season and seal the Marlins’ fourth consecutive win. Miami is now 37-40 on the season, including 11-1 against the Nationals (29-52).
“Back and forth,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said succinctly.
OK, now for a little more nuance...
We’ll start in the ninth, with the Marlins one out away from their first loss in this series.
Avisail Garcia walked on a full-count with two outs in the ninth to put the game-tying run on the basepaths. Billy Hamilton pinch-ran for Garcia to make his Marlins debut.
As Garcia made his way toward the dugout, he stopped to give Sanchez some words of advice as he prepared to face Tanner Rainey.
The main message, according to Sanchez?
“Take the sliders,” he said, “and I made an adjustment with the fastball.”
Sanchez fell behind in the count 0-2 and then took two pitches from Rainey before sending a 97.2 mph four-seam fastball 373 feet to right field for his 11th home run of the season. It was the second time in the past four games the Marlins hit a go-ahead home run with two outs in the ninth. Garcia did it against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.
“I’m a batter that will die just waiting for the fastball,” Sanchez said.
Scott began the bottom of the ninth with a Luis Garcia groundout before hitting Keibert Ruiz with a pitch and walking Maikel Franco to put runners on first and second. Alcides Escobar pinch-ran for Ruiz.
An Ehire Adrianza fielder’s choice moved Escobar to third base before Robles hit a line drive to left-center field to tie the game.
Scott, like Okert the inning before him and Anthony Bass the inning before that, was pitching in his third consecutive game with the Marlins also needing their primary high-leverage relievers in the first two games of the series — a 6-3 win on Friday and a 5-3 win on Saturday.
“It’s a challenge,” Mattingly said of using relievers on three consecutive days. “You know you’re stretching them and you know that they’re not going to be available [Monday]. You’re going for the W right there and know the price you’re paying.”
They had to pay the price after the Nationals began their rally in the seventh.
In addition to his eighth-inning home run, Bell also broke up Lopez’s no-hit bid with a leadoff double in the the seventh down the left-field line. He scored and broke up the shutout when Nelson Cruz hit a single to left-center. Garcia then hit a double to right and Lopez hit Yadiel Hernandez with a pitch with one out to load the bases before Marlins manager Don Mattingly pulled Lopez from the game.
“If he gets [Hernandez], I’d give him a shot at the next guy,” Mattingly said, “but once he hits him, that’s pretty much it.”
Bass gave up a game-tying sacrifice fly to Adrianza that scored Cruz — the run was charged to Lopez because he allowed Cruz to reach base — before getting Robles to ground out to limit the damage to the one run while getting two outs on two pitches.
But it wasn’t a smooth ride for Lopez even before that seventh inning despite the no-hit bid to that point.
Lopez walked three batters and hit two more over the first four innings, during which time the infield turned three double plays. He was at 37 pitches after two innings and 68 after five. He finished the game throwing 102 pitches — eight shy of his career high.
Nevertheless, it was his second quality start — pitching at least six innings and giving up no more than three earned runs — in his past three starts after pitching to a 5.23 ERA (19 earned runs in 32 2/3 innings) in his six starts prior to that.
“When I was throwing the ball inside the strike zone, I was getting good results,” Lopez said. “I was more concerned with the fact that I was a little more in and out of the zone. ... Today, I was feeling a way I hadn’t felt in a long time. Overall, it gave me confidence and good results.”
And, in the end, a team win.