WASHINGTON -- Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton continued his tear through the month of August with a solo home run in the first inning, but the Nationals answered quickly, highlighted by third baseman Anthony Rendon, who drove in four runs, to punctuate an 8-3 victory Tuesday night at Nationals Park.Rendon reached
WASHINGTON -- Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton continued his tear through the month of August with a solo home run in the first inning, but the Nationals answered quickly, highlighted by third baseman Anthony Rendon, who drove in four runs, to punctuate an 8-3 victory Tuesday night at Nationals Park.
Rendon reached 85 RBIs, matching his career high set last season. And the victory improved the Nationals to 80-51, matching a franchise record with the 2012 club for the fastest team to 80 wins.
"I think we've been confident the entire year," said Rendon, who padded the Nats' lead with an RBI single in the fourth -- one inning after Daniel Murphy's go-ahead two-run single. "You have to have some sort of confidence in any competitive sport, but it's best to just take it one game at a time and worry about the next game or the next week or whatever it may be."
Stanton mashed his 51st homer of the season and 18th this month, matching a Major League record in the month of August. But Nationals right-hander Edwin Jackson limited the damage following the first-inning home run, giving up three runs (two earned) while pitching into the seventh inning.
"We had one big opportunity, we couldn't step up for that," Stanton said. "Then it got out of hand a little bit. We've been doing well. You can't do it every night; we need to. But this was one we didn't."
Miami dropped back-to-back games for the first time since Aug. 9-10 (also to Washington) after fell to 5 1/2 games behind the Rockies for the second National League Wild Card spot.
The Marlins left 10 on base, and they had the bases loaded with no outs in the seventh after putting a run on the board, but couldn't do any more damage.
"It's kind of what you sit there and think about during the game as it kind of unfolded on us," Miami manager Don Mattingly said. "We had a lot of chances, really, to get some kind of damage in those situations. We weren't able to do it. Really, the key to the game. We had chance to do some things and we didn't take advantage. They had some chances to do some things, and they did."
Marlins right-hander Vance Worley entered having beaten the Nationals twice this month while allowing just one run in 13 innings in those two starts. The Nats got to him on Tuesday night, collecting five runs on nine hits before they chased him after 4 1/3 innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Escaping a bases-loaded jam: The Marlins had already scored one run on an error in the seventh when they threatened for more with the bases loaded. However, the Nationals escaped through the combined relief efforts of left-hander Oliver Perez and right-hander Matt Albers. Perez induced a grounder from Christian Yelich, which Rendon fired home to the plate to get a forceout and save a run. Then Albers entered the game and promptly struck out Marcell Ozuna and forced J.T. Realmuto to ground out to shortstop to squander Miami's best scoring chance of the night.
"That was the biggest key for them," Ozuna said. "We could have done damage, but they made some good pitches. You can say, 'Congratulations, he made a good pitch in the zone.' He threw something I wasn't looking for. They did a good job today."
"They've been awesome," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said of Albers and Perez. "Man, they got some huge outs there. Big outs."
Rendon clears the bases: The Nationals did not leave the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, using a two-out rally against right-hander Junichi Tazawa to put the game out of reach. Murphy set the stage with a double before back-to-back walks loaded the bases for Rendon.
"I thought they hit some good pitches. Left a couple of pitches up that they got base hits on. Overall, I think the command was better today. The intent of each pitch was where I wanted it to go. Try to build off the positives of that outing." -- Worley, on his outing overall
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Dee Gordon swiped his 47th base, and Stanton hit his 51st home run. Only twice has a team had players with at least 50 homers and 50 steals in the same season -- 1995 Indians (Albert Belle 50 homer, Kenny Lofton 54 steals) and 2000 Cubs (Sammy Sosa 50 homers, Eric Young 54 steals).
Marlins: The Marlins close out the series and their short road trip on Wednesday at 4:05 p.m. ET. Left-hander Adam Conley (6-5, 5.17 ERA) starts for Miami. He's 1-3 (8.22) in his career against Washington.
Nationals: The Nats wrap up this three-game series with the Marlins and close out this seven-game homestand Wednesday. Stephen Strasburg will take the mound after he had his last start halted by calf cramps. He cruised through that point with six scoreless innings and seven strikeouts against the Astros.
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Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.