WASHINGTON — Playing in the nation’s capital hasn’t been a very enjoyable experience for the Marlins.
Well, for everyone but Giancarlo Stanton. Monday, the big guy did just enough to help lead his teammates to a rare win at Nationals Park.
Sporting a right arm sleeve of the American flag, the All-Star right fielder slugged his 15th home run of the season, produced three hits and was responsible for all three of his team’s runs as the Marlins held on to beat the Nationals 3-2 in front of a crowd of 33,677 on a sun-soaked Memorial Day afternoon.
“All we’ve got to do is get on base for Giancarlo. He can do some damage real quick,” said Marlins manager Mike Redmond, whose team improved to 7-17 on the road and won for only the second time in its past 14 games at Nationals Park since the start of the 2013 season.
“We needed to come out with some momentum and we were able to do that,” Redmond continued. “ ‘G’ crushed that ball, 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.”
Nathan Eovaldi started for the Marlins and went 6 1/3 innings to pick up his first road victory since Sept. 1.
Mike Dunn, A.J. Ramos and Steve Cishek then came in and retired the final eight Nationals hitters in a row, securing the win. The save was Cishek’s 11th of the season.
But the story was Stanton, and the Marlins’ ability to deliver big hits with two outs early in the game. Miami (27-25) scored all of its runs with two-out rallies.
Casey McGehee picked up his major league-leading 12th hit with two outs and a runner in scoring position to give the Marlins a 1-0 lead in the first inning. His bouncer to left field got under the glove of the diving Ian Desmond at shortstop and scored Stanton, who got the rally going with a double off the glove of a diving Jayson Werth in right field. McGehee is now 12 for 30 (.400) in those situations.
“That’s more a testament to the guys in front of me,” McGehee said of his success with runners in scoring position and two outs. “That’s why I think the RBI is such a cool thing to track. Even though it goes on somebody’s individual stats, it really is a team stat.”
Derek Dietrich has been doing that for Stanton in the No. 2 spot in the lineup. He leaned into a 1-2 pitch from Nationals starter Tyler Roark in the third to bring Stanton to the plate with two outs. Stanton then crushed the next pitch, a 447-foot moon shot over the wall in center field.
It was the eighth time this season Dietrich has been hit by a pitch, tied for the most in baseball with Pittsburgh’s Neil Walker.
“I noticed he’s kind of had like no urge to get out of the way,” Stanton said with a smile. “It works out. His on-base percentage goes up.”
When it comes to beating up on the Nationals in their backyard, few do it as well as Stanton. He has more home runs in Washington (14) than any visitor since he began his career in 2010, and his .333 career average (43 for 129) ranks second among active players behind only the Mets’ David Wright (.344).
“I feel like we’re all working together finally,” said Stanton, who blasted his majors-leading sixth homer of at least 440 feet this season. “We all understand what type of hitters we are. Everyone is getting on. I’m getting on for McGehee. Dietrich and Yelich are getting on for me. It’s a complete cycle that keeps going on.”
Even with a three-run lead, the Marlins still had to pitch their way out of trouble.
Eovaldi worked hard to get through the first five innings but still had allowed only one hit before Werth hit a line-drive single to center with one out in the sixth. One pitch later, Adam LaRoche delivered the big blow, a towering two-run home run into the upper deck in right field to bring the Nationals to within a run.
Eovaldi got the final two outs of the inning but not before Desmond drove a pitch to the right-field wall, where Stanton made the catch.
After Eovaldi plunked Nate McClouth with one out in the seventh, Redmond turned to his bullpen. They shut the door. It was sweet redemption, considering the Marlins bullpen blew a lead the last time in they were in Washington in April.
“The main thing is to get the ball to Cishek, however that is,” said Ramos, who rallied from a 3-0 count and struck out Anthony Rendon looking to open the eighth. “We came in and did what we’re supposed to do and what we know we can do. It worked out.”