Marlins hold off Nats after Stanton's homer
Slugger hits 14th career shot in DC; 'pen shuts door for solid Eovaldi
WASHINGTON -- Giancarlo Stanton certainly has found a comfort zone at Nationals Park, a place that has been a house of horrors for the Marlins the past two seasons.
Boosted by Stanton's two-run homer, the Marlins were able to hold off the Nats, 3-2, on Monday afternoon in a Memorial Day matinee.
Miami entered Monday just 1-12 at Washington since the start of last season. The power of Stanton helped enable the club to get off to a good start in this three-game set, which has second place in the National League East on the line.
"They've had our number here for a while now," Stanton said. "They swept us here last time. So it was good to get our first one to start the series off."
Stanton increased his career homer total against Washington to 21, with 14 coming at Nationals Park. Of all opponents, Stanton has more than 10 homers at only one visiting ballpark -- Nationals Park.
If there is a reason for Stanton's success at Washington, the slugger isn't saying so. Chalk it up to the breaks of the game.
"I don't know," Stanton said. "It happens in baseball. Some things you can't explain like that. It's just good it worked out today. But I understand I do a little better here. I can't really attest it to anything."
In honor of Memorial Day, Stanton sported a patriotic stars and stripes, red, white and blue compression sleeve. He plans to wear it again on the Fourth of July.
The big numbers continue to rise for Stanton, who now has 15 home runs and 49 RBIs on the season. No player in franchise history has reached 50 RBIs before June 1. Stanton has a shot.
Stanton played a part in all three Miami runs. He had three hits and scored two runs.
Nathan Eovaldi (4-2) gave the Marlins 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits with five strikeouts. The big blast he allowed was a two-run homer to Adam LaRoche in the sixth inning. After Mike Dunn escaped the seventh and A.J. Ramos threw a perfect eighth, Steve Cishek collected his 11th save in 12 tries.
"We need to come out with some momentum and we were able to do that today," manager Mike Redmond said. "Giancarlo crushed that ball and had some great at-bats. That's what it's going to take for us to win ballgames on the road. The great thing was we kind of kept the momentum on our side. We didn't allow things to start rolling in their favor, and that's a testament to our pitching and the fact that we got out to that quick lead."
Stanton showed his ability to strike quickly in the third inning off Tanner Roark (3-3). Derek Dietrich was grazed by a Roark pitch with two outs. One pitch later, Stanton launched a moon shot to straightaway center that clanked high off the back wall, giving Miami a three-run lead.
"The first couple of innings, I felt like I was aiming the ball, not throwing it the way I wanted to and not executing some pitches," Roark said.
In the first inning, Stanton was at the center of a two-out rally, ripping a double to right -- which Jayson Werth nearly caught with a terrific diving play. Casey McGehee's RBI single opened the scoring.
McGehee is 12-for-30 with two outs and runners in scoring position.
"I feel like I've had a lot of chances with Giancarlo getting on base," McGehee said. "The guys at the top of the order have been on base a ton, it seems like. I enjoy it because I feel like a single is as good as anything at that point. I've just been trying to keep that approach as much as I can."
The Nationals mounted a two-out threat in the fourth inning, and they were assisted by a two-out error by Dietrich at second. Eovaldi walked Anthony Rendon to open the inning, and with two outs, Wilson Ramos reached on a grounder that went through the legs of Dietrich, putting runners at the corners. But on three pitches, Eovaldi struck out Ian Desmond to preserve his three-run lead.
Momentum changed in the sixth inning after McGehee doubled with one out and was picked off by Roark. McGehee didn't feel Desmond tagged him and Miami used a replay challenge, but the ruling was that the call stands, and a chance to add on was lost.
The Nationals capitalized in their half of the sixth. Eovaldi had limited them to one hit through five innings, but with one out, Werth singled and LaRoche launched a two-run homer to right, trimming Miami's lead to a run.
Eovaldi exited with one on and one out in the seventh, and Mike Dunn got through the inning unmarked. A.J. Ramos worked a perfect eighth inning, a frame in which the Nationals have outscored Miami 15-1 this year. And Cishek made quick work in the ninth.
"We're definitely confident that we can win games," Eovaldi said. "We just haven't been executing everything on the road. We've been playing well at home. To get the first one out of the way will be good for us.
"The bullpen was awesome, came in and slammed the door on them. The defense was good. We executed our pitches."