Comebacks not enough as Nats' 'pen struggles

August 19th, 2018

WASHINGTON -- Manager Dave Martinez knows he has asked a lot of his bullpen recently, especially as the Nationals have had to endure short outings from their starting pitchers and are routinely locked in tight games. Thanks to a plethora of injuries, he also only has a few reliable arms left in the bullpen, leaning heavily on and .

Both faltered in Saturday night's 7-5 loss to the Marlins in 10 innings at Nationals Park. Miller gave up a go-ahead home run in the ninth to JT Riddle but was saved by 's solo homer to tie the game in the bottom of the inning. Then, the Marlins put together three hits and an intentional walk in the 10th against Glover to push across a pair of runs on a single by .

The loss dropped the Nationals back to .500 and spoiled a chance to gain ground on the Braves in the National League East; the Nats still trail by seven games.

"It's very frustrating," Glover said. "It's like you punch somebody, and then you get punched twice."

Injuries in their rotation forced to the Majors sooner than the Nationals may have anticipated this season, with both and needing two separate stints on the disabled list. Washington has been so encouraged by Rodriguez's progress -- through his dominance at Triple-A Syracuse and flashes of potential in a handful of Major League starts -- that it slotted him into the rotation Saturday to fill Hellickson's spot and bumped Tommy Milone into the bullpen.

Rodriguez turned in a solid performance in his fifth career start. He pitched into the sixth inning before a pair of singles ended his night, but he gave up just two earned runs in five innings with three strikeouts and three walks. In his last two starts, Rodriguez has pitched to a 2.70 ERA after posting a 6.86 ERA in his first five appearances.

"Before I used to like to just battle with my fastball a lot," Rodriguez said through an interpreter. "Now I'm mixing in my pitches more, using my offspeed more and getting more comfortable and confident with those offspeed pitches."

The Nats were hurt by a costly fielding mistake from in the sixth. hit a grounder toward second base for what appeared to be a sure-fire double play to end the inning, but Murphy booted it to load the bases. Then, Riddle lined a two-run single just over the outstretched glove of a leaping Murphy to put Miami ahead. A frustrated Murphy laid on the outfield grass and pounded both fists into the ground.

"It was a tough one to lose," Murphy said. "I make an error right there, put us behind schedule, and then I misplay a line drive. It was a direct hand in us losing this ballgame. Two plays I should've made. I didn't. And it really hurt us a lot tonight, unfortunately."

But Murphy helped the Nats start a rally in the seventh with a single on the 11th pitch of his at-bat to start the inning, eventually scoring on a wild pitch. Then, , who also hit a two-run homer in the third inning, tied the game with a run-scoring single.

"I think to fight to get back in the game is pretty hard, and then to do it two or three times in a game and then not be able to come out victorious I think is definitely disappointing a little bit," Turner said. "That's baseball. If you give those guys more chances and don't capitalize on your chances, then you're not going to put yourself in a spot to win."

SOUND SMART

Turner became the 10th shortstop in MLB history with at least 15 home runs and 30 stolen bases in the same season and the first since Jimmy Rollins in 2012.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY

Sensing a chance to strike with runners on first and second and no outs in the seventh inning, the Nats sent Matt Wieters to the plate as a pinch-hitter. 's third pitch of the at-bat ran too far inside. Wieters immediately signaled to the dugout that the ball hit him, and after about a 52-second review, the call was overturned, and the bases were loaded.

UP NEXT

(7-9, 4.12 ERA) will be on the mound as the Nationals wrap up the three-game set against the Marlins at 1:35 p.m. ET on Sunday at Nationals Park. He is in the midst of one of the worst stretches of his career since the start of June, posting a 6.12 ERA in 13 starts during that span. (3-12, 4.74) will start for the Marlins while he is appealing his six-game suspension.