WASHINGTON (AP) — All it took was two blown leads and an extra-inning loss in Game 3 of the young season for Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker already to be defending his relief corps.
“I mean, my bullpen — I love my bullpen,” Baker said. “These guys are going to be one of the best, if they’re not already.”
They were not at their best on this night. Justin Bour doubled in the go-ahead run with two outs in the 10th after the Marlins erased deficits in the eighth and ninth innings, and Miami earned its first win by beating Washington 4-3 Thursday.
The Nationals went into this season without an experienced, established closer after losing Mark Melancon to free agency. Instead, Blake Treinen won a spring training competition and he, Shawn Kelley and Sammy Solis all had a hand in this defeat, as did Joe Blanton.
“Whether they’re closing or pitching in the eighth or getting left-handed guys out, it doesn’t matter,” said Ryan Zimmerman, whose tiebreaking homer in the eighth briefly put Washington up 3-2. “But I think everybody in this room has confidence in all those guys down there, in whatever they’re asked to do.”
In a game delayed by rain for more than an hour both at the start and in the middle of the sixth, Bour sent a shot off Blanton (0-1) down the left field line. That brought home J.T. Realmuto, whose single in the 10th was his third hit of the game, including a two-run homer in the eighth off Kelley that made it 2-all.
David Phelps (1-1) earned the win with a scoreless ninth. A.J. Ramos, Miami’s sixth pitcher, worked the 10th to earn his first save.
Washington entered the eighth with a 2-0 edge thanks to homers from Adam Eaton and Jayson Werth.
But Kelley walked Christian Yelich then gave up Realmuto’s second homer of the season.
“That’s when I usually make my best pitches,” Kelley said, “and I didn’t tonight.”
After Zimmerman put Washington back in front, pinch-hitter Tyler Moore — a former member of the Nationals — delivered an RBI single up the middle off Treinen with a 2-2 count and two outs in the ninth.
“I love those guys over there,” Moore said, “but right now I’m with the Marlins, and I love these guys over here.”
Treinen came in with a man on third, put there by Solis.
“I got myself in a position where I should’ve had success,” said Treinen, who saved the first games of the series. “I just didn’t execute the pitch that I wanted to throw. It came back to bite us.”
“Once you lose the first two, you’re basically in salvage mode, right? You never want to walk out of here 0-3 to start the season.” — Marlins manager Don Mattingly.
LONG DAY’S NIGHT
A game that began 1 hour, 20 minutes late because of showers was held up for another 63 minutes in the middle of the sixth.
“A long game. Took a long time,” Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez said. “I was up pretty early today and leaving pretty late.”
The Nationals were taking a bus ride to Philadelphia for their next series, departing about an hour after game’s end.
Both starters left after the rain delay. Gonzalez allowed seven singles and struck out seven in six scoreless innings. Miami’s Tom Koehler gave up one run in five innings.
On a sinking liner by Realmuto in the second, RF Bryce Harper ducked to shield his eyes from the late-afternoon sun and awkwardly stumbled to the ground — but managed to make the catch, earning applause from Gonzalez.
Marlins: Open a three-game series at the Mets on Friday, with LHP Wei-Yin Chen on the mound.
Nationals: NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer pitches Friday against the Phillies.