The Nationals called on John Lannan to give them another first game doubleheader start and he gave them a 7-4 victory. Gio Gonzalez went the second game but he was outdueled by Josh Johnson, who came within one out of a complete game in the Marlins 5-2 second game victory.
John Lannan was not sharp, walking five hitters, including Emilio Bonafacio to start the game. He is the type of pitcher that continually dances around danger, always within a whisker of the big inning. The Marlins were able to load the bases with no one out after a Jose Reyes bunt single. With the crowd getting restless, Lannan got Carlos Lee to ground into a 6-4-3 double play and struck out Austin Kearns to get out of the inning giving up only one run.
The Nationals came back in the bottom frame off Brad Hand after he had retired the first two hitters. Ryan Zimmerman smoked a double, and after a walk to Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche tied the game with a single. A walk to Tyler Moore loaded the bases where it was left to Mark DeRosa to drive in two runs with a single.
Given a 3-1 lead, Lannan could not accept the prosperity in the top of the second. After he retired the first hitter on a popup, he walked the next two. Brad Hand was called on to bunt the runners over, failed in his first two opportunities and with two strikes made a third attempt. He popped it up, but Adam LaRoche let the ball hit the ground and turned it into a 3-5-6 double play. The bunt was not popped high enough for any of the umpires to call infield fly.
Adam LaRoche stayed hot by hitting a solo homerun in the third and in the fourth the Nationals drove Hand from the game with three more runs to take a commanding 7-1 lead. LaRoche walked with the bases loaded to drive in one, Tyler Moore beat out an infield single to score another and a fourth walk of the inning, this one to Mark DeRosa scored the third. The Nationals had an opportunity to score more but Jesus Flores and John Lannan both struck out.
Lannan pitched well for the next four innings, retiring 12 of the 13 hitters he faced. In the seventh, he walked the leadoff hitter Austin Kearns and gave up a double to Donnie Murphy. Murphy had to leave the game with a hamstring strain. After throwing two balls to pinchhitter Bryan Peterson, one of which sailed to the back stop to score a run, Davey Johnson came with the hook. He brought in Ryan Mattheus to finish the walk, give up an RBI single to Brett Hayes, before finally getting Scott Cousins to ground into a double play to get out of the inning.
With the score 7-3 it became a game of whether the now porous Nationals bullpen could hold the lead. The Marlins loaded the bases on a couple walks off Drew Storen in the eighth. He wasn’t allowed to complete the inning, Michael Gonzalez being called on to strike out Scott Cousins to end the threat.
Gonzalez struggled in the ninth, giving up a double to Brett Hayes and a single to pinchhitter Greg Dobbs. That brought in Tyler Clippard, who retired the next three hitters to pick up his save.
In the second game Steve Lombardozzi led the game off for the Nationals with a triple. He scored on a Ryan Zimmerman fly ball to right field. The way Gio Gonzalez was dealing it appeared that was the only run he would need.
Through the first five innings Gonzalez threw strikes, giving up only two hits, one of them in the fifth inning erased by a double play. He had only one three ball count and that was in the third inning. When the sixth inning hit he ran a three ball count to Josh Johnson. On a 3-2 pitch he threw a strike to the .035 hitting Johnson, who drove the ball over the head of Bryce Harper, who limited Johnson to a single by playing the bounce off the wall. Donavan Solano and Jose Reyes hit back to back two out singles to load the bases, all to right field with Johnson hesitant to take the extra base on Harper’s arm. Carlos Lee singled up the middle to drive in two, giving the Marlins a 2-1 lead. Greg Dobbs made it four straight hits by blooping a ball over the head of shortstop Danny Espinosa to make it 3-1.
Josh Johnson was making easy work of the Nationals after the first inning. After the Lombo triple he retired the next 12 Nationals. In the fifth he gave up a leadoff double to Michael Morse and a bloop single to left field to Roger Bernadina. Morse thought the ball would be caught and had to hold at second. Johnson struck out Sandy Leon for the second time and got Gonzalez to fly weakly to center to end the threat. He retired the next nine out of 10 Nationals, only a Jose Reyes error on a bounced throw to Carlos Lee the only baserunner.
The Marlins gave Johnson another run in the eighth on a Jose Reyes double to right. A high throw to second by Bryce Harper allowed Reyes to slide under the tag. A lower throw and Reyes would have been out. Reyes went on a pitch Carlos Lee grounded to short. By the time Espinosa fielded the ball Reyes was at third. Espinosa could have held the ball to allow Lee to get to first, or throw to first to get Lee out. He threw to first and Reyes broke for home, scoring without a throw.
The Marlins scored another run in the ninth to up their lead to 5-1, Josh Johnson helping himself with his second hit of the game. Bonafacio singled to score the fifth run.
In the bottom frame, the pitch count for Johnson reached 100. He gave up a single to Bryce Harper. With two outs and Harper at second, Michael Morse bounced one up the middle. Bonafacio dove to stop the ball, but couldn’t pick the ball up to get Morse out. He jammed his thumbed and flipped the ball to Reyes, but the ball hit no man’s land on the infield grass and Harper raced home for a run. Bonafacio was removed from the game with the thumb injury and he may be out for the rest of the season.
Ozzie Guillen called on Steve Cishek to get the last out. He struck out Danny Espinosa, getting him swinging on a couple pitches way out of the strike zone.
Game Notes: The Nationals acquired Kurt Suzuki from the Oakland Athletics for David Frietas. Suzuki will take over the starting role for Jesus Flores, who looks worn out and ragged. His throws have not been crisp and his bat has been real slow. Suzuki will give the Nationals some re-newed energy behind the plate. Sandy Leon sealed his fate by striking out his last three times up…Danny Espinosa is swinging at bad pitches again. He swung at a pitch that appeared to hit him in the feet. He struck out his last three times up in the second game of the doubleheader…Adam LaRoche appears to have hit a hot hitting zone. He was fouling balls into the upper deck and lining them into the stands. He did go 0 for 4 in the second game after going 3 for 4 in the first game.