WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are no closer to home-field advantage than they were earlier on Friday. Dee Gordon's speed helped break a sixth-inning tie as the Marlins defeated the Nationals, 7-4, at Nationals Park.
The Nationals are two games ahead of the Dodgers in the standings after Los Angeles lost to the host Giants. The magic number for Washington to clinch home-field advantage is one.
The Marlins, playing on the road for the first time since the death of José Fernández, continue to bond together during a time of grieving.
"They've had a lot to go through and handled everything great, and tonight, the same way," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of his club. "It seems like they've really kind of stayed together. Even though it's tough, they're still having fun on the bench playing together. They know it's the last couple of games playing together. It's been good."
Washington wasn't able to advance because of Gordon. With runners on first and third and left-hander Oliver Pérez on the mound, Gordon hit a two-out slow roller to shortstop Danny Espinosa, who couldn't get Gordon at first and allowed Justin Bour to score the go-ahead run. The run was charged to left-hander Sammy Solís, who took the loss.
An inning later, Christian Yelich hit his 21st homer of the season off Sean Burnett, a solo shot to increase the lead by two. Bour, who attended nearby George Mason University, went 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs.
Right-hander A.J. Cole most likely pitched his last game of the season for the Nationals. He started and went three innings after an hour and 43-minute rain delay, giving up four runs (two earned) with two strikeouts.
"The Marlins were whacking him pretty good there," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "The Marlins have a good offensive team. If you don't make quality pitches, they are going to hit you."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Yelich homers, drives in two: Yelich continues to build on his career-high home run and RBI totals. With two driven in, the 24-year-old now has 97 on the season and has a shot at reaching 100 in the final two games. Yelich, who also hit a double and scored two runs, connected on a homer in the seventh inning that gave Miami a 6-4 advantage. According to Statcast™, the blast projected at 435 feet with an exit velocity of 105 mph. More >
Nats score four in fourth: Down four runs, the Nationals were finally able to get to Andrew Cashner in the fourth inning by scoring four runs. Anthony Rendon and Stephen Drew hit back-to-back home runs, while Jose Lobaton drove in Clint Robinson with a double to right-center. Trea Turner then tied the score with a single to right, plating Lobaton.
Bullpen picks up slack: After Cashner allowed four in the fourth, the Marlins turned to their bullpen. Five Miami relievers covered the remaining five innings, combining to strike out 10 Nationals and at one stretch retiring 12 straight before A.J. Ramos walked Robinson to open the ninth. Fernando Rodney fanned two in the seventh and David Phelps struck out the side in the eighth. Ramos picked up his 40th save after locking down the ninth, striking out three.
HARPER RETURNS TO LINEUP
After four days off because of a thumb injury, Bryce Harper returned to the lineup on Friday and struck out four times.
Asked what he thought of Harper's performance, Baker said, "What do you want me to say? He struck out four times. He was swinging well before he went down. He was rusty. We have to get that rust off of him before we start the playoffs." More >
Nationals left fielder Jayson Werth left Friday's 7-4 loss to the Marlins in the seventh inning because of back tightness. He is listed as day to day, and the injury is not considered serious.
"It's part of the season where you err on the side of caution. I didn't want to put myself in a position where I potentially get hurt," said Werth, who went 0-for-3 in the game. "I talked to [manager] Dusty [Baker], and he got me out of there. If I'm not in there, I'll be surprised. It's possible it could be tight tomorrow. I don't think we are dealing with anything other than tightness." More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Ramos closed out the ninth inning for his 40th save. It marked just the fifth time in club history a closer has reached the 40 plateau. The last to do so was Todd Jones (40) in 2005.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Washington entered the fourth inning down by four but tied it on Turner's RBI single to right. On the play, Wilmer Difo tried going from first to third, but he was thrown out by right fielder Marcell Ozuna. Martín Prado applied a slap tag, which got Difo. The Nationals challenged, and after a review of one minute, the call stood.
Marlins:Wei-Yin Chen (5-4, 5.02 ERA) on Saturday will make his 22nd start in the 4:05 p.m. ET contest at Nationals Park. The lefty is 4-3 with a 4.55 ERA on the road this season.
Nationals: Right-hander Tanner Roark goes for a career-high 16th win of the season. It will be his sixth start of the season against the Marlins, his most against any opponent. He had a 5.02 ERA in those outings.
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