The Washington Nationals are proving that their offense can carry them on the rare occasions when a member of their star-studded pitching rotation has an off night.
Stephen Strasburg surely would like to avoid that from happening again, though.The right-hander looks to bounce back from a pair of shaky outings as Washington seeks a three-game sweep of the visiting Miami Marlins on Thursday.The Nationals (6-2) got a stellar performance from starter Gio Gonzalez in a 5-0 victory in Tuesday's series opener, but Jordan Zimmermann had the shortest outing of his career Wednesday and spotted the Marlins a five-run lead through two innings.Jayson Werth capped the comeback and his five-RBI night with a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth that gave the Nationals a 10-7 victory. Anthony Rendon was intentionally walked in front of Werth as the Marlins hoped to induce a double-play ball."Knowing Jayson, if the pitcher looks at him wrong, he'll take that personally," reliever Craig Stammen said. "So them blatantly walking to get to him -- typically they don't walk to get to your 3-hole hitter."Bryce Harper, who entered hitting .160 over his first six games, started the rally with a three-run homer in the fourth."That's a big swing for him, confidence-wise," manager Matt Williams said.Washington has a 2.84 team ERA and has allowed two runs or fewer five times, but it also has won two of the three games it has given up at least six. Rendon went 2 for 4 and is hitting .419, while Ryan Zimmerman improved his average to .375 with two hits after not starting the last two games due to a sore shoulder.The offense picked up Strasburg in the season opener March 31, when Washington rallied for a 9-7 win in 10 innings over the New York Mets.Strasburg (0-1, 6.10 ERA) allowed four runs and struck out 10 through six innings in that game before giving up six runs -- three earned -- and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings of a 6-2 loss to Atlanta on Saturday."I don't feel like I got out of my game plan or anything," Strasburg said. "I really felt like I gave everything I had and battled."Strasburg now will try to change his luck against a Miami team that also has given him trouble. He's 2-2 with a 6.97 ERA in his last seven starts against the Marlins, pitching fewer than six innings four times -- once because of a long rain delay.Giancarlo Stanton is 8 for 21 with two homers and four doubles off Strasburg. He recorded his 13th RBI on Wednesday and will look to help the Marlins (5-4) avoid a fourth straight defeat after a hot start.Manager Mike Redmond defended the decision to walk Rendon."We were trying to win the ballgame there. We were trying to get a ground ball," Redmond said.Miami will send Tom Koehler to the mound after he gave up two runs in six innings of an 8-2 win over San Diego in his season debut Friday. He's 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA over his last four starts dating to last season.The right-hander is 1-1 with a 6.55 ERA in two starts against the Nationals, though he gave up two runs and three hits in six innings of a 4-2 victory the last time he faced them Sept. 22.Washington has outscored Miami 59-22 while winning 11 of the last 12 meetings in D.C.
Jayson Werth has HR on consecutive April days for the 1st time since 2008.
That was his breakout year with the Phillies, when he finished with the 1st 20-HR season of his career and helped the team win its 2nd title in franchise history.