Suzuki’s pinch-hit, bases-clearing double capped a six-run, 10th inning and the Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 10-4 Saturday night.
The Nationals catcher has been sidelined because of an elbow injury since Sept. 8. And although Suzuki was allowed to pinch hit for the first time since his injury, he still cannot field his position.
“I was inching to get back in the box, in the game to help the team,” Suzuki said. “It was nice to be out there.”
Brian Dozier’s go-ahead single to left off Miami reliever Jose Urena (4-10) scored Ryan Zimmerman from third. Zimmerman had led off the inning with a single and advanced to third on a single by Victor Robles. Adam Eaton had an RBI single and Juan Soto walked with the bases loaded in the inning.
The Nationals are atop the NL wild-card race, one game ahead of Milwaukee, which has a three-game lead for the second wild card.
“They don’t quit, they keep coming back and had some good at-bats late,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “We’ve seen this all year. They’re going to keep playing until the final out.”
Wander Suero (6-8) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win and Tanner Rainey got the final three outs.
Nationals’ starter Stephen Strasburg was lifted with a 2-0 lead after seven innings and 109 pitches. Strasburg allowed three hits, struck out six, walked three and hit a batter.
“It’s not about one, it’s about all of us,” Strasburg said. “We’re going to fight until the very end.”
Washington squandered a 4-0 lead as the Marlins scored four runs in the eighth off reliever Fernando Rodney.
Austin Dean’s bases-loaded double against Rodney tied it. Rodney also allowed an RBI double to Starlin Castro, walked Isan Diaz and gave up a single to Harold Ramirez that loaded the bases.
“We get some hits and we then we were just kind of able to keep grabbing that momentum,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Saw some good at bats in there, obviously.”
Washington increased its advantage in the eighth on Robles’ run-scoring single and a fielders’ choice by Gomes that scored Zimmerman from third.
The Nationals took an early lead on a run-scoring single by Strasburg in the second. Strasburg drove in Gomes, who had reached on a two-out double.
Cabrera increased Washington’s lead with an RBI single in the fifth.
Miami’s Jordan Yamamoto, making his first start since Aug. 24, was lifted after a one-out walk to Anthony Rendon in the fifth. Yamamoto allowed two runs, six hits, struck out three and walked two.
“Just gotta be more efficient - it’s been done,” Yamamoto said. “People can go six or seven innings with 80 pitches, so me going 4.1 innings, is kind of a disappointment to myself to the team. I felt like I let them down by not being able to go out there and put up a fight.”
Not fleet of foot, Zimmerman got a good read on Robles’ bloop single to right and took the extra base that allowed him to score on Dozier’s single. The Nationals first baseman stumbled momentarily as he rounded second, but still beat the throw to third.
“Once you see where the second baseman is at you just keep going,” Zimmerman said. “Getting to third there was the most important thing. It wasn’t the smoothest but I made it.”
MATTINGLY’S OFF-SEASON ADVICE TO YAMAMOTO
Yamamoto experienced immediate success after his major league call-up before a five-game losing streak that eventually landed him on the injured list. The rookie right-hander’s final starts of the season won’t reflect on how he will be viewed in spring training.
“I don’t think a start is going to change really anything for anybody,” Mattingly said. “I think the fact that you’re healthy and finishing the season is important. I think the real growth comes from, obviously, the off-season. That’s when you get after your work. It’s a work with a different purpose. Once you get to the big leagues and see what it takes what you’re dealing with, your work becomes a lot more purposeful.”
Nationals: C Kurt Suzuki (right elbow inflammation) had a throwing session Friday and hopes to return to play the position before the end of the season. Suzuki has been sidelined since Sept. 8. “It’s kind of a day by day thing, seeing how I recover from the throwing,” Suzuki said. “Right now, it’s going as planned.”
Nationals: RHP Austin Voth (1-1, 3.58) will make his first career start against Miami in the series finale Sunday.
Marlins: RHP Pablo Lopez (5-8, 4.94) is 0-3 with a 7.17 ERA in his five starts since returning from the injured list Aug. 26.
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