Turner hot and Sánchez cool as Nats roll past Marlins 9-3 (updated)

Trea Turner went 3-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs and Aníbal Sánchez allowed only one run over seven innings for his first win of the season as the Nationals dispatched the Marlins 9-3 on Sunday afternoon.

The Nats offense finally got rolling, tallying nine runs through five innings, including five in the fifth, to coast to their 11th victory on the season, evening the series at two games apiece.

In the first, Turner singled to extend his hitting streak to nine games. He came around and scored on an RBI double by Howie Kendrick.

Turner-Swings-Gold-Sidebar.jpgIn the second, Luis García singled and scored on a run-scoring single from Turner.

In the fourth, García collected his second single of the day and Turner was hit by a pitch. Adam Eaton brought them both home on a long double to deep right field for a 4-0 lead.

Former Nats prospect Sterling Sharp relieved Marlins starter Humberto Mejía in the fourth. Sharp, selected by the Marlins in the Rule 5 draft in December, managed to get out of that frame, but struggled in the fifth.

Sharp walked Eric Thames and then gave up singles to Kurt Suzuki and García. With the bases loaded, Carter Kieboom’s walk forced in a run.

An error by Brian Anderson on a Victor Robles swing allowed two more runs to score. Turner’s two-run triple ended the five-run outburst to put the game away.

Eaton finished with the double, a walk and two RBIs. Manager Davey Martinez said the Nats have worked with Eaton to look for better pitches to make contact.

“We talked to him about swinging at strikes,” said Martinez in a postgame Zoom video call. “He was swinging at a lot of balls outside the strike zone. The last few days, he’s been trying to get the ball down where he is good and keeping the ball in the strike zone, and when he does that, he hits the ball really hard.

“I have said it before, him and Trea, when they get going, we start scoring some runs. Today was a perfect example and good thing to see that both of those guys were on base a lot.”

Eaton said it has been a struggle to get the adrenaline going in this abbreviated season playing before empty stadiums. He does not believe he has turned the corner at the plate, but today was a good start.

“Usually it’s day to day, but it has kind of come and gone for me,” Eaton said. “Hopefully, I can just bring the same approach tomorrow and try to get the rhythm of the season. The rhythm really hasn’t been there. But there is no excuse, you got to be a professional at the end of the day. We are all kind of human and the rhythm hasn’t really been there for me and kind of getting back that grind mentality. That dynamic usually helps me. Hopefully, we can find that.”

García had his second three-hit performance in the last five days, scoring three runs.

Sánchez surrendered only a leadoff home run to Corey Dickerson in the second inning. Sánchez tossed seven innings, allowing five hits with no walks and five strikeouts. He threw 92 pitches, 62 for strikes, and said he built off his last start in Atlanta on August 17.

“I think what happened today happened on my last outing,” Sánchez said on a postgame Zoom video call. “The last two innings in Atlanta was the way that I pitched today. So I know what I feel. I know how to keep strong at the end of the game. I remember that day and I use that today.

“I don’t want to allow the walk and I want to finish strong on my outing and give opportunity to the team to win. That’s what I focus right now. My mechanics are there. It’s something I have been working for the whole season and finally I had it with me and I got a really good result.”

Martinez said for Sánchez it’s all about keep the ball down and in the strike zone. He had three walks last start but none today.

“His previous outing before this in Atlanta, his last inning and a half, I saw a different Aníbal,” Martinez said. “I saw him turn that corner then. He kept the ball below the zone unless he wanted go up and pumped strikes. It was a good day, a big pickup for us today. Aníbal set the tone early and continued to throw seven innings.

“He was really good. That’s the Aníbal that I’ve known for a very long time. When he can split the plate like he did, and work both sides and keep the ball down, he’s going to be very effective and he did that today. I had a conversation with Kurt Suzuki afterwards and he said that’s the best he’s thrown this year just because he’s working from down to up and that’s who he is.”

Ryne Harper pitched a pair of innings in relief to finish the game, allowing two runs on four hits with three strikeouts.

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