New-look lineup produces early lead (Nats win 5-2, back over .500)

Well, that didn’t take long.

The Nationals’ new-look lineup has staked rookie right-hander Taylor Jordan to a 1-0 lead in the second, courtesy of an RBI double by Denard Span.

Adam LaRoche led off the frame with a single off Henderson Alvarez and, after Ian Desmond struck out, Denard split the gap in right-center to put the Nationals on the scoreboard.

It’s early, but a lead is a lead. And if it prevents the Nats from heading into the All-Star break on the wrong side of .500, who’s to argue?

Update: Jordan is through three innings and still holds a 1-0 lead. He’s given up four singles, and was helped out when Giancarlo Stanton’s single to left with two down in the third turned into an out, courtesy of a 7-2-4-2 putout sequence after the Marlins’ Placido Polanco got hung between second and third when Jeff Mathis stopped at third.

Jordan hasn’t walked a batter and has struck out two.

Update II: The Nationals are making a lot of contact against Miami’s Henderson Alvarez, not that they have much to show for their seven hits.

In the fourth, Stanton twice threw out runners from right field. Jayson Werth led off with a single to right, a sinking liner that Stanton dove for and couldn’t corral. While Werth took off for second, Stanton gathered himself and the ball and threw from his knees, nabbing Werth at second.

With runners on first and second with two down, Jordan tried to help his own cause with a flare to short right field. Third base coach Trent Jewett sent Desmond home and Stanton’s charge and throw got him, with catcher Mathis blocking the sliding Desmond off the plate.

Update III: The lead is gone, as Miami’s Derek Dietrich just hit a two-run homer to right to eease the Nats’ 1-0 advantage. Marcell Ozuna lead off with a single to left and Dietrich hammered an 0-1 Jordan pitch into the right-field stands.

Update IV: Steve Lombardozzi is in to pinch-hit for Jordan in the seventh, meaning his day is done after six decent innings. The rookie yielded eight hits, two runs and struck out four without walking a batter in the longest outing of his young career. Sadly, he was only able to keep his team close, as the Nats’ bats haven’t been able to do much against Alvarez since the second inning. Jordan threw 73 pitches, 43 for strikes, and is still looking for his first major league victory.

After Bryce Harper singled and Anthony Rendon doubled, Jordan is no longer on the hook for the loss. Rendon’s two-bagger tied it at 2-all and knocked Alvarez from the game in favor of reliever A.J. Ramos.

The Nats loaded the bases with two down against Ramos, who got Werth to fly out to left-center to end the inning and the threat.

Update V: Extra innings, free baseball. We head to the 10th all tied at 2-2.

Update VI: Want to bet that manager Davey Johnson stays with this new-look lineup when the season resumes Friday at home against the Dodgers?

Span doubled home Desmond to break the tie with two out in the 10th, and the Nationals got to Marlins closer Steve Cishek for an insurance run on a Wilson Ramos RBI single. Washington now leads 4-2 and Cishek is out, replaced by Dan Jennings.

Pinch-hitter Chad Tracy greeted Jennings with a double off the right field wall for a 5-2 lead.

Update VII: It’s a 5-2 final in 10 innings after Rafael Soriano closed out the Marlins in the 10th. The Nationals finish the first half with a 48-47 record and avert a sweep at the hands of the Fish.

Span finished 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs. The Nationals pounded out 14 hits, six of them doubles. Craig Stammen vultured a win.

While the Nationals scatter for the All-Star break, check back frequently on, as Dan Kolko keeps you connected with all the Nats news.

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