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Nationals rally late after Roark's strong start

Washington launches comeback in final innings to win series vs. Marlins
Special to MLB.com

MIAMI -- Tanner Roark is no stranger to lack of run support. In his last three starts, the Nationals had scored a combined total of three runs. That trend continued on Saturday afternoon, but the Nationals punished Marlins closer Brad Ziegler for three runs in the ninth inning for a 4-1 win over the Marlins.

Washington, with the National League's best road record (16-8), goes for the sweep on Sunday at Marlins Park.

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MIAMI -- Tanner Roark is no stranger to lack of run support. In his last three starts, the Nationals had scored a combined total of three runs. That trend continued on Saturday afternoon, but the Nationals punished Marlins closer Brad Ziegler for three runs in the ninth inning for a 4-1 win over the Marlins.

Washington, with the National League's best road record (16-8), goes for the sweep on Sunday at Marlins Park.

View Full Game Coverage

Mark Reynolds came up big both offensively and defensively. He cut down the potential go-ahead run in the eighth inning, throwing out a runner at the plate to preserve a 1-1 tie. The Nationals' first baseman promptly led off the ninth inning with his fifth home run of the year to break the tie and spark the big rally.

"I knew they were going to be aggressive there and go on contact and make us make a play," Reynolds said of the key defensive gem. "Luckily [Justin] Bour hit it right at me; hard-hit ball, one hop. It was just pitch and catch [to home plate] and got the guy out."

Video: WSH@MIA: Reynolds' heads-up play keeps the game tied

Reynolds' homer, his 73rd career go-ahead homer, was projected by Statcast™ at 390 feet with an exit velocity of 106.1 mph and a 36-degree launch angle. It extended Reynolds' hitting streak to six games.

"I was trying to get something up in the zone," Reynolds said. "I knew he didn't want to walk me there to lead off the inning. He left a sinker up and I was able to get to it there."

The Nats then piled on with RBI singles from pinch-hitter Matt Adams and Trea Turner, who has reached base safely in 41 of his last 51 games.

Video: WSH@MIA: Turner scores Adams with an RBI single

Roark went seven innings, limiting Miami to one run on four hits. He struck out five and walked two. He has limited the Marlins to two-or-fewer runs in six of his last seven starts against them. But for the fourth consecutive start this season, he got little to no help from his offense, resulting in a no-decision for his efforts.

"It'll make me a better pitcher in the long run," Roark said. "You can't worry about that. I trust these guys to get the job done day in and day out. So I've just got to go out there and do my job and not give in and just give everything you have."

Video: WSH@MIA: Roark strikes out the side in the 5th

Things looked bleak for Roark and the Nationals until Wilmer Difo breathed some life into a dormant offense with an eighth-inning home run off Marlins left-handed starter Wei-Yin Chen that tied the game, 1-1.

The Nationals' second baseman hit the left-field foul pole with a 367-foot blast, as projected by Statcast™, with an exit velocity of 95.3 mph and a 28-degree launch angle. It was his first career game-tying home run.

Video: WSH@MIA: Difo hits a game-tying HR in the 8th inning

"[Chen] was doing a great job, so after that home run it kind of lifted everybody," Difo said through an interpreter.

Against Chen, the Nationals managed just three hits and until Difo's home run, hadn't had a hit since Turner's third-inning single. Chen allowed only two baserunners past first base prior to the home run.

"Chen was carving us up all day," Reynolds said. "It was frustrating at-bats. All it takes sometimes is one swing to get a little energy in the club and Difo did that for us today; huge homer."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Justin Miller made his Nationals debut with the game on the line in the bottom of the eighth inning. Miller, who was called up on Friday and hadn't pitched in a Major League game since 2016, came in with two outs and runners on first and third in a 1-1 tie. The right-hander struck out veteran Starlin Castro on three pitches to end the inning.

Video: WSH@MIA: Miller K's Castro to end the 8th inning

"I threw a fastball, he swung through it," Miller said. "Then I threw an elevated fastball and he swung through that one, too. Then I was like, 'I can either throw a slider or I can keep throwing a fastball until he proves he can hit it.' I just told myself to make sure I throw it away, and I got it there."

SOUND SMART
The Nationals have won 10 straight games over the Marlins. It is the second-longest winning streak against a single opponent in Nationals history. The longest was an 11-game win streak over Seattle (June 10, 2005, to Aug. 30, 2014).

HE SAID IT
"Any given day, those guys can win ballgames for you. Those guys have been huge for us. I love having them both. They're truly professionals, great teammates and full of energy. They bring a lot to us." -- Nationals manager Dave Martinez, on having both Reynolds and Adams

UP NEXT
Stephen Strasburg brings a personal six-game win streak against the Marlins when he takes the mound for the Nationals in the series finale at 1:10 p.m. ET Sunday. With a 15-7 career mark against Miami, Strasburg hasn't lost to the Fish since an April 25, 2015, start in Miami. The Marlins counter with right-hander Elieser Hernandez, who has never faced the Nationals.

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com based in Miami.

Washington Nationals, Tanner Roark