MIAMI -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker was as aggressive as he's been all season long, emptying out his bench to try to steal a victory from the Marlins and closer A.J. Ramos on Saturday night.Down a run in the ninth, the Nats had the bases loaded with none out against
MIAMI -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker was as aggressive as he's been all season long, emptying out his bench to try to steal a victory from the Marlins and closer A.J. Ramos on Saturday night.
Down a run in the ninth, the Nats had the bases loaded with none out against Ramos, but Jayson Werth bounced into a crushing double play that helped the Marlins hang on for a 3-2 win.
"We were thinking winning the game at that point," Baker said. "We were going for broke right there."
The Nats started the inning with singles from Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy to put runners on first and third. Then, Wilson Ramos delivered a pinch-hit single to cut the deficit to one as Murphy advanced to third.
Baker has been conservative at times with replacements, wanting to save players on the bench for late-game or extra-inning situations, often allowing even his pitchers to hit when they are coming out of the game anyway to not spoil a pinch-hitter. But sensing a chance to win the game after being stifled all night by Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, Baker threw caution to the wind. He immediately pinch-ran for Ramos at first base with Michael Taylor. Anthony Rendon drew a walk to load the bases and Baker used Werth as a pinch-hitter in Danny Espinosa's spot.
The Marlins' middle infield was playing back, willing to exchange a double play for allowing the tying run. But Werth hit a grounder directly at third baseman Martin Prado, perhaps the worst possible spot for the Nationals. Prado was able to step on the bag at third for a forceout before throwing home to get Murphy for a rally-killing double play.
"We'll take Jayson up there in that situation," Murphy said. "I'll take him up there the rest of the year and I'll take my chances."
Ramos forced the next batter, Jose Lobaton, to ground out to end the game.
"My guys, they battled big time," Baker said. "They're probably happy over there on the other side, but they got away."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.