WASHINGTON (AP) — Max Scherzer pitched seven sharp innings in his first start since he was sidelined by neck spasms, and the Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 3-2 on Monday night.
Bryce Harper homered for Washington, and pinch hitter Adam Lind singled in the tiebreaking run in the eighth inning. The Nationals expanded their lead in the NL East over second-place Miami to 14 games.
Wilmer Difo led off the eighth with a single off Jarlin Garcia (0-2). He reached second on a bunt and, with two outs, Lind delivered a single up the middle.
It was Lind’s 13th pinch hit of the season, and his 10th RBI in that role.
Brandon Kintzler (4-2) worked the eighth and Sean Doolittle got three outs to earn his sixth save. Both pitchers were acquired shortly before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Giancarlo Stanton hit his major league-leading 37th homer for the Marlins, matching his previous career high.
Scherzer struck out nine and gave up two runs. The right-hander was coming off an abbreviated start against the Marlins six days earlier, when he was pulled after one inning with neck spasms.
In this one, Scherzer allowed only five hits, two of which really mattered: Stanton’s home run and an RBI single by pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne, who stepped to the plate with a .036 lifetime batting average.
In a strange twist, Marlins starter Chris O’Grady was forced from the game with a right oblique strain after facing only five batters. He walked Ryan Zimmerman in the second inning and was replaced by Despaigne, who subsequently gave up an RBI single to Matt Wieters.
Harper hit his 29th home run leading off the fourth, a drive deep into the right-field seats. He hit 24 all last season.
Miami got a run back in the fifth when Tomas Telis doubled and scored on a two-out single by Despaigne, who was 2 for 56 with no RBIs in his six-year career.
Stanton tied it in the sixth with his 17th home run at Nationals Park, most by any visiting player.
The Nationals activated left-hander Gio Gonzalez from the paternity list and optioned right-hander Erick Fedde to Triple-A Syracuse. Gonzalez’s wife gave birth to a boy.
Nationals manager Dusty Baker became emotional when asked to recall his relationship with former player and manager Don Baylor, who died Monday.
Baker broke into the big leagues with the Braves and Baylor debuted in Baltimore.
“I was supposed to be the next Hank Aaron and he was the next Frank Robinson,” Baker recalled.
Marlins: RHP Kyle Barraclough (right shoulder impingement) had a 35-pitch bullpen session Monday and will pitch live batting practice Thursday. … LHP Wei-Yin Chen (left arm fatigue) is scheduled to pitch live batting practice on August 9. … LHP JT Riddle (left shoulder tendinitis) is scheduled for surgery on Friday.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (elbow) threw a bullpen session Sunday and “is continuing to progress,” Baker said. … OF Jayson Werth (foot) is hitting but still can’t run. … OF Michael Taylor (oblique) is at least a week away from returning. “I told Michael that I’d rather have him over-ready than under-ready,” Baker said.
Marlins: Vance Worley (1-2, 5.31 ERA) starts Tuesday against the Nationals, whom he held scoreless over seven innings in his last outing Wednesday.
Nationals: A.J. Cole (1-1, 4.91 ERA) makes his third start of the season and second in a row against Miami.
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