Aug 27, 2013, 9:43 PM EDT
Game in a nutshell: Returning home after a successful road trip through Atlanta, Chicago and Kansas City, the Nationals opened a key stretch in which they’ll play 19 consecutive games against the bottom three clubs in the NL East. First up: the last-place Marlins. The Nats responded by jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning but then forced their pitching staff to do the rest. Ross Ohlendorf churned out five-plus innings, allowing only one run to the final batter he faced. Tanner Roark impressed again, getting through the rest of the sixth. Drew Storen bounced back from his strange outing over the weekend, retiring the side. Tyler Clippard dominated the eighth, striking out feared slugger Giancarlo Stanton on three pitches. That left it all up to Rafael Soriano in the ninth. The struggling closer righted his ship, earned his 34th save and secured the Nationals’ 12th win in their last 17 games.
Hitting highlight: The way they pounced on Nate Eovaldi early, the Nationals looked primed for a big night at the plate. Turns out they needed those two quick runs in the worst way because they were shut down after that. Three singles and an RBI groundout got the job done, though, with Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper getting things started with one out, then Zimmerman scoring on Jayson Werth’s bouncer to third. Ian Desmond followed with a sharp single up the middle, bringing home Harper and giving the Nationals a 2-0 lead they had to hold the rest of the night.
Pitching highlight: He still looks like a guy returning from the DL, but Ohlendorf has nonetheless gotten the job done since coming back from his minor shoulder injury. The right-hander was effective early on Tuesday night, retiring the first nine Marlins he faced. But then he began to fade, allowing four of the next 10 batters to reach. When Ohlendorf took the mound for the top of the sixth, hit pitch count sat at only 76, but Davey Johnson already had Roark warming in the bullpen. Was Davey worried his starter was running on fumes at that point? Perhaps, because as soon as Ohlendorf served up a leadoff homer to Christian Yelich, Capt. Hook emerged from the dugout to make the pitching change. Obviously, he’s still a work-in-progress, but Ohlendorf has gotten the job done.
Key stat: Tyler Clippard has allowed 28 hits in 59 1/3 innings this season.
Up next: The series continues at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday when Stephen Strasburg (currently sitting on 156 innings pitched) figures to establish a new career-high in that department. Right-hander Henderson Alvarez starts for the Marlins.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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