Reliever Daniel Hudson allowed a two-run home run in the ninth inning Friday night that erased a late Nationals lead.
But the veteran held steady and focused on finding a way to bounce back, getting out of the inning and limiting the damage.
Hudson was able to record three consecutive outs to allow his club the opportunity to overcome a deficit. Anthony Rendon's two-run single did just that in the bottom of the ninth, and the Nationals came back to drop the Marlins 7-6.
Leading 5-4 heading into the top of the ninth, Hudson needed to record just three outs for his second save with the Nats, and his first since Aug. 13 against the Reds.
The first batter, Harold RamÃrez, hit a hot shot that skipped off third base. Rendon tried to make a play, but his relay to first baseman Matt Adams was just a half-second late and the Marlins had a runner on base.
Starlin Castro then launched a 1-0, 95 mph four-seam fastball over the right-center field wall to give Miami a 6-5 lead.
"Just trying to get through that as well as you can," Hudson said. "I got a tough hop with the first hitter and then I fall behind, the at-bat swings in his favor. I don't want to fall behind 2-0 and I'm trying to stay kind of quick to the plate as well. Not let that tying run get into scoring position with the heart of the order coming up. I just missed middle-middle with the fastball and he made me pay for it."
There was still nobody out in the inning. But Hudson refocused and recorded a flyout to left, a strikeout of Jorge Alfaro and another flyout to right field to end the inning.
"Huddy comes in, and he's been phenomenal," said Martinez. "All those guys have been phenomenal. It didn't happen today, but what I like is he could've put his head down and not got those three outs, and he fought back and got three big outs for us, kept us within one."
So when the umpire doesn't give you that first strike call and then you give up a potential game-altering two-run shot, how do you refocus and not just let the moment get away from you?
"Just trying to reset," Hudson said. "It's baseball. I got a tough bounce, ball off the base, beat by a half a step and then didn't get a call 0-0 that I thought could've gotten, kind of swung the at-bat in one direction. And then just missed middle-middle fastball. Just try to tell yourself to lock it in and reset and go get three outs after that."
Thanks to those three outs, Hudson's teammates were down only one leading to the bottom of the ninth. Pinch-hitter Howie Kendrick singled, Trea Turner walked, a passed ball moved the runners up and a two-run single by Rendon turned a blown save into the win for Hudson (8-3).
"He's a huge competitor," said Rendon. "I love the way he just attacked hitters. No matter what happens, I think you should still be able do that. I'm not a pitcher, but playing behind him and being a defender behind him, we love that about a pitcher. Just going after guys and trying to make them beat you. When you have awesome stuff, you should continue to challenge hitters."
Like the ninth inning, the rest of the bullpen had an up-and-down Friday night for the Nats.
Wander Suero notched three outs in the sixth inning following AnÃbal SÃ¡nchez's five innings. But right-hander Hunter Strickland struggled in his return, starting the seventh inning by allowing three singles and a walk. The Marlins put a run on the board to cut the Nats lead to 4-3. Manager Davey Martinez elected to leave Strickland in and the veteran struck out Alfaro for the first out.
"He had a rough go," Martinez said. "The first hitter hit a ball that's probably a foot outside, broke his bat and got a base hit. But then he came back. I told Paul (Menhart): If he can get the ball up, we can get a strikeout right here. And he did exactly that. He struggled a little bit, but what I love about him is I talked to him in the dugout and without any hesitation he said: 'I want the ball tomorrow.' That's awesome."
Roenis ElÃas made his Nats home debut and, despite a bases-loaded walk, got Lewis Brinson to hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. The game remained tied at 4-4.
"ElÃas comes in for the first time since coming off the IL and gets a huge double play to keep it tied," Martinez said. "All these guys are doing great. Let's just say we won a tough game."
Before Hudson came on in the ninth, 42-year-old Fernando Rodney arrived via the bullpen cart and provided a three-up, three-down eighth, including a pair of strikeouts. That set the stage for Hudson's strange win. His fourth blown save of the season turned into win No. 8.
"It's huge. It's huge," Hudson said. "Tony just doing MVP things. It's awesome. The boys picked me up tonight. It was a great win. Got the lead, lost it, and then took it again twice. It's a good win."
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