MIAMI - The Nationals bullpen was unable to hold the lead Monday night against the Marlins, relinquishing an early 4-0 cushion that turned into an 8-5 setback at Marlins Park.
Right-hander Erick Fedde allowed only three baserunners in the first four frames on one hit. But in the fifth, he walked the first two batters, then surrendered a two-run double to Starlin Castro that got the Marlins on the board. Fedde ended up with four walks.
Manager Davey Martinez said Fedde’s pitch count rose when he couldn’t consistently stay in the strike zone, and then the walks started to pile up. Nats pitchers handed out six free passes on the night.
“Walks killed us today all the way around,” Martinez said. “Ninety-something pitches in four innings. So he couldn’t get ahead. He was always too low. When he got ahead, he was OK, but it wasn’t often.”
Fedde ended up with 93 pitches in 4 1/3 innings, 51 for strikes. He allowed only two runs on two hits, but walked four and struck out six.
“It was mostly my glove side stuff,” Fedde said. “Slider was missing arm side all day and then yanking he fastball. (Martinez) said it, don’t enjoy walking people. It’s not fun.”
Center fielder Victor Robles hit his first major league home run in the third inning well over the left-center field wall. The solo shot was a no doubter that travelled close to 427 feet. The blast helped the Nats to an early 2-0 lead.
“It feels spectacular,” Robles said via interpreter Octavio Martinez. “I mean I’m very excited. That’s one of those things when you get up here, that’s what you hope for and you wait for it to come and then it does. The feeling overwhelms you and its indescribable.”
Robles gave the fan that caught the homer an autographed bat in exchange for the home run ball. He said he will keep the memento for himself.
Later, Anthony Rendon hit his 99th career homer, a two-run shot that lifted the Nats to a 4-0 advantage. It was his 21st of the season.
Right-handed reliever Jimmy Cordero allowed four consecutive singles in the game-changing sixth inning that saw the Nats’ 4-2 lead turn into a 5-4 Marlins advantage. Cordero ended up allowing three runs and being charged with a blown save.
Did he feel like the game sped up too much as the singles piled up in that frame?
“It’s certainly sometimes can happen where the game speeds up,” Cordero said via Martinez. “I feel like, though, I’ve pitched here long enough now that where I’ve gotten more comfortable. Sometimes you make good pitches and just the hitters find holes with their base hits. Either way, I got to keep attacking the zone and hopefully that doesn’t happen.”
The final run of the sixth that gave the Marlins the 5-4 lead came on a balk called against Nats right-handed reliever Wander Suero. Davey Martinez explained that he didn’t see home plate umpire Pat Hoberg make the call. Suero had thrown to first base to attempt to hold the runner. The runner at third base scored the go-ahead run.
“It was different,” Martinez said of the umpire’s explanation for Suero’s balk. “He said he saw something different. I said he did (that move) four times and been doing it all year. I said this is the first time it’s ever been called a balk. He’s done the same thing all year long. I just don’t know. I asked Pat (Hoberg); typically you see that and he said, ‘Yeah.’ That was it.”
The Nats managed to tie the game at 5-5 in the top of the seventh on a run-scoring fielder’s choice grounder by Trea Turner.
But Right-hander Koda Glover (1-3) gave up two runs on two hits with two walks in the seventh inning and was tagged with the loss.