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April 10, 2014

Series recap: Marlins at Nationals

Series dates: April 8-10

Series location: Nationals Park

Results: The Nationals won the first game, 5-0; the second game, 10-7; and the last game, 7-1

Nationals' record: 7-2 

Best performance by Washington players: Right fielder Jayson Werth hit his first grand slam with the Nationals when he lined a home run into the visitors' bullpen in the eighth inning to give the Nationals a 10-7 win during the second game of the series April 9.

It was the first grand slam for Werth as a member of the Nationals, who trailed, 7-6, going into the bottom of the eighth. Reliever Carlos Marmol intentionally walked Anthony Rendon, but Werth hit the second pitch from Marmol for a homer.

"It worked out," Werth said. "You want to come through for your teammates. I was happy to do that. We have to take opportunities when we get them. I never felt out of this game -- that's for sure."

Marlins manager Mike Redmond was asked about the intentional walk after the game. 

"We were trying to win the ball game there," Redmond said. "We were trying to get a ground ball. Rendon's been swinging the bat really well, too." 

What went right for the Nationals: The Nationals got a strong outing from starter Stephen Strasburg during the series finale April 10 as he fanned 12 batters in less than seven innings.

"Today was a huge step in the right direction for him as a pitcher," shortstop Ian Desmond said of Strasburg, who made his 78th career start. "When he commands his fastball, it makes every other pitch that much better."

Strasburg wanted to pitch longer than he did, he said. 

"I felt like I was cruising," he said. "I felt strong. I could see the finish line." 

For good measure, Desmond hit a grand slam in the eighth April 10 to make it 7-1.

It was the second grand slam in as many days for the first-place Nationals (7-2). 

"It was a confidence builder," Desmond said of the series sweep.

The Washington bullpen had five strikeouts April 10 for a total of 17 by Nationals pitchers.

The Nationals also had some solid batting averages: Werth (.375), Ryan Zimmerman (.333), Rendon (.412) and Adam LaRoche (.344)

What went wrong for the Nationals: It was a real head scratcher when starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann could not get out of the second inning against the Marlins April 9. 

Miami scored five runs against Zimmermann, who lasted 1.2 innings while allowing seven hits before giving way to reliever Craig Stammen in the second.

"He is one guy you can count on for six or seven innings," Stammen (no runs in 3.1 innings) said of Zimmermann. "It was a fun game to win. We were fighting the whole game."

The M*A*S*H* watch: Washington began the series without starting pitcher Doug Fister (15-day disabled list) and catcher Wilson Ramos (15-day DL). It had appeared that third baseman Ryan Zimmerman was going to join them before the series began, but that was not the case.

Williams said before the April 6 game that he was concerned with Zimmerman's shoulder and putting him the DL was possible. 

Williams said the team needed to make sure Zimmerman was good, physically, before playing the field. But Zimmerman was back at third April 10, so that is more good news for Washington.

What we learned: The Nationals need to feast on teams in the division not named Atlanta. Washington also managed another comeback win during the series, coming back from a 5-0 deficit April 9. The Nats did not post a comeback like that until several months into the 2013 campaign.

What is next: The Nationals will begin a series April 11 in Atlanta against the rival Braves.

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