MIAMI (AP) The postgame scene in the Washington Nationals clubhouse included a smoke machine, strobe lights and blaring music, which created an atmosphere akin to a South Beach nightclub.
Following a woeful weekend, the Nationals had something to celebrate Monday.
Jordan Zimmermann became the first starter to pitch seven innings this season for the Nationals, and they totaled 11 extra-base hits to beat the slumping Miami Marlins 9-2.
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The rout came after the Nationals were swept in a three-game series at Atlanta.
”That was a tough weekend, but they responded,” manager Matt Williams said. ”They came out today and played hard.”
The Marlins endured their eighth loss in a row.
”The only way we can get out of this thing is somebody needs to step up, go out there and say, `It’s over, I’m done with it,”’ manager Mike Redmond said. ”We either need a big pitching performance or a big hit or a big play to spark us to get us going. Those guys understand that, and hopefully it will come Tuesday.”
Bryce Harper had two doubles and an RBI triple for Washington. He has batted .520 over his past seven games to boost his average to .348.
Harper came out of the game as a precaution in seventh inning after he slipped running the bases. He said he has been nursing a sore thigh muscle.
”It has been tight since Friday, but nothing too serious,” Harper said. ”I’m ready to go Tuesday.”
Catcher Sandy Leon hit his first career home run, while Tyler Moore also homered and had an RBI single. Anthony Rendon drove in three runs with a double and a triple, and Danny Espinosa doubled and tripled.
”It was a fun night,” Moore said in the smoke-filled clubhouse. ”We needed that after three tough losses in a row. We’re just trying to turn the page. We swung the bats good, and Jordan pitched great.”
Zimmermann (1-0) bounced back from the shortest start of his career. After lasting only 1 2-3 innings when he gave up five runs against Miami last week, he lowered his ERA from 8.10 to 5.27, allowing two runs while striking out seven.
”It was a lot better today,” he said. ”I was getting ahead with the fastball. When I’m able to get ahead, I can throw everything else where I want and when I want. When I fall behind, that’s when I run into trouble.”
The right-hander gave up a homer to Garrett Jones but tied the Nationals record of 44 career victories set by Livan Hernandez. Zimmermann also had two of the Nationals’ season-high 16 hits.
”A lot of guys on our team are swinging it well,” Harper said. ”It’s contagious. Everybody is hitting it. It goes one through eight – even one through nine.”
The Nationals improved to 4-0 this year against the Marlins and have outscored them 31-10.
Washington started fast against Brad Hand after being swept in a three-game series at Atlanta last weekend. Jayson Werth missed a home run by inches when he doubled off the top of the wall with two out in the first, and Harper followed with an RBI single.
Moore skipped a ball off the top of the wall into the Marlins’ bullpen for a homer in the second. Rendon hit a two-run double later in the inning to make it 4-0.
Hand (0-1) fell to 1-11 in his career as a starter. He lasted only three innings while allowing five runs and five extra-base hits.
Things are going so bad for the Marlins they brought in closer Steve Cishek trailing by seven runs in the ninth because he needed the work.
It likely won’t get any easier for the Marlins on Tuesday, when they face Stephen Strasburg. He beat them last week and began this week leading the NL in strikeouts.
NOTES: Nationals RHP Doug Fister (back muscle) threw 50 pitches in a bullpen session and said he felt good afterward. The next step for him is a simulated game. … Nationals OF Nate McLouth missed his second start in a row because of a sore left knee. … With a left-hander pitching for Miami, 1B Adam LaRoche sat out for the first time this season. … Marlins OF Marcell Ozuna was held out of the starting lineup after bruising his foot when he fouled a ball off it Sunday. … INF Rafael Furcal (hamstring) began a rehabilitation assignment Monday that is expected to last three weeks, meaning he won’t join the Marlins until early May. … Marlins 1B Garrett Jones is a fan of pro wrestling, and his new theme song when he bats is a tune used by The Ultimate Warrior, who died last week.