Hechavarria homers, Marlins top Nationals
MIAMI (AP) — The gaudy sculpture in left field swung into motion and lit up like a carnival ride as Miami Marlins fans cheered the rare spectacle.
Home run, home team.
Adeiny Hechavarria ended a pair of home run droughts with a three-run shot that helped Miami beat the Washington Nationals 8-2 Tuesday night.
“I was beginning to think that the home run sculpture out there wasn’t plugged in,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “I’m glad that it’s working.”
The offensively challenged Marlins (3-11) began the game with the worst record in the majors, but broke out of a batting slump in the fourth inning with four runs, more than they had scored in all but one game.
Hechavarria’s homer was the Marlins’ first at home this season, and it ended a nine-game home run drought that had tied the 20-year-old franchise record.
“When I hit the ball, I knew it was out of the ballpark,” Hechavarria said. “It was a great feeling.”
A throwing error by Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman — his fourth in five games — preceded the homer and led to four unearned runs.
Miami’s Justin Ruggiano had two hits and three RBIs, Greg Dobbs contributed a bases-loaded walk and a run-scoring single, and Juan Pierre totaled three hits and hiked his average to .222.
Redmond said the homer provided the kick-start the Marlins needed.
“We’ve been waiting for a big hit for a while,” he said. “We knew it was going to come. We didn’t know who it was going to come from.
“It was big for everybody. I think for everybody, it was like, `All right, here we go’ — a nice sigh and a little bit of relief.”
Alex Sanabia (2-1) allowed two runs in six innings, and two relievers completed an eight-hitter.
The Nationals had been 4-0 against the Marlins this season, outscoring them 21-4. But Dan Haren (1-2) gave up seven runs, three earned, in 4 1-3 innings.
“Nice to beat those guys,” Redmond said. “They’ve kind of had their way with us so far this year. Nice to put a big number on them.”
As a tribute to victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, the crowd of 16,200 sang along to “Sweet Caroline” before the bottom of the eighth inning. The song has been featured at Red Sox home games since 2002.
Both teams were short-handed, and the Nationals played without three regulars. Bryce Harper and Denard Span sat out with flu-like symptoms, and second baseman Danny Espinosa remained sidelined by a bruised right hand.
Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton sat out for the fifth consecutive game because of a bruised left shoulder. He took batting practice and said he felt better, and might rejoin the lineup Wednesday.
Redmond tweaked the Miami lineup, and Chris Coghlan batted leadoff for the first time since 2011, with Pierre dropped to second in the order. The Marlins responded with a season-high run total and 11 hits.
The Marlins had help. The game was scoreless in the fourth when Placido Polanco reached with one out on the latest wild throw by Zimmerman, who underwent right shoulder surgery last offseason.
“The shoulder feels great,” Zimmerman said. “That’s why it’s so frustrating. It’s just a matter of me sticking with it and not mentally getting frustrated.”
Following the error, singles by Dobbs and Ruggiano scored the first run. Hechavarria, who turned 24 Tuesday, hit a two-out homer.
“I would prefer it happened Monday,” he said with a smile, “but I’ll take it.”
The rookie shortstop finished 1 for 4, hiking his average to .184. The homer was his first and the team’s third.
Washington scored twice in the sixth on doubles by Adam LaRoche, Tyler Moore and Steve Lombardozzi.
NOTES: After the game, the Marlins optioned C Kyle Skipworth to Triple-A New Orleans. 1B Joe Mahoney will be reinstated from the disabled list Wednesday. … Marlins reserve OF Austin Kearns received clearance to play after missing two games and undergoing tests for an irregular heartbeat. He struck out pinch-hitting in the sixth. … The Marlins still have no saves. … The Nationals’ Roger Bernadina reached second base in the fifth inning when Sanabia fielded his tapper and threw wildly, but Bernadina was ruled out for running inside the first-base line.