(Sports Network) - The wild card hunt is still on for the Washington
Nationals, but time is not on their side.
The Nationals are five games back in the wild card race with nine to play and
must take care of their own business with some added help to fulfill
postseason hopes. They will get back to work Friday in the second meeting of a
four-game series versus the Miami Marlins.
Washington continued its 10-game homestand (5-2) with Thursday's 3-2 win over
the Marlins and Bryce Harper's three-run homer in the first inning off
Henderson Alvarez proved to be the difference. Harper and Ryan Zimmerman were
3-for-4 and Ian Desmond finished with two hits.
"I like being in those pressure situations, those crucial situations, playing
for the wild card," Harper said. "All year long, you try to play for the
playoffs and try to go to that next round."
Denard Span was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and his career-long 29-game hitting
streak came to a halt. Span batted .374 with five doubles, two triples, two
home runs and nine RBI before the streak ended and was one game away from the
team record set by Zimmerman.
"I'll be honest, I was definitely upset," Span said on the club's website. "I
haven't not gotten a hit in 29 days, so that felt weird, walking back to the
dugout without getting a hit. I felt sad, like I let myself down, let the fans
down, they've been rooting for me.
"Once the game was over, I was able to take a deep breath and say, 'You know
what? Now I can move on.' We got a win and now let's see if we can finish
these last few games strong."
Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez pitched well over six innings and was
charged with two runs and seven hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Drew
Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano each tossed a scoreless inning of
relief, with Soriano posting his 42nd save to secure Washington's 14th win in
the past 18 tries.
The Nats hope Jordan Zimmermann can add to that success when he shoots for his
19th win of the season Friday. Zimmermann is second in the majors with 18 wins
(18-8), while leader Max Scherzer is 19-3 and takes the ball Friday for the
Detroit Tigers versus the Chicago White Sox.
Zimmermann has won three straight starts and is 4-1 in his past five
decisions. He allowed two runs in seven innings of an 11-2 win over
Philadelphia on Sunday and struck out seven with two walks. The right-hander,
who is 11-3 in 17 home starts, has won both of his appearances against the
Marlins this season and is 3-3 with a 3.92 ERA in 10 career starts in this
Miami continued its 11-game road trip (2-6) with Thursday's loss and Alvarez
pitched well save the early three-run home run by Harper. Alvarez lasted five
innings and permitted seven hits.
"That ended up being the game. Three-run home run, that was it," Marlins
manager Mike Redmond said. "Unfortunately for us, we've had that scenario
happen several times."
Ed Lucas had three hits and an RBI and Justin Ruggiano drove in the other run
for the Marlins, losers in 11 of their last 14 games.
Hoping to snap Miami's seven-game slide in D.C. will be Jacob Turner, who will
make his 20th start of the season. Turner has struggled as of late with an 0-6
mark and a 4.60 ERA in his last 11 starts. The Marlins are 1-10 in that
stretch and dropped a 3-1 decision in Turner's last outing Sunday against the
New York Mets. He allowed all three runs through five innings to fall to 3-7
in 19 starts with a 3.51 ERA.
Turner, a right-hander, is 0-5 in 10 road assignments and lost a start to
Washington on Sept. 8, when he surrendered five runs in four innings of a 6-4
loss at Marlins Park. In three starts lifetime against the Nationals, Turner
has an 0-2 mark to go along with a 7.20 ERA.
The Nationals are 12-4 against the Marlins this season and has prevailed in
seven of the past eight matchups between the clubs.
The Sports Network