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Marlins, Ozuna pound Nats' Strasburg

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- Marcell Ozuna was just 20 years old then, a fresh-faced minor leaguer in low-A ball.

That's when he first faced Stephen Strasburg, one of baseball's rising superstars who had been to the big leagues already but was now in the minors rehabbing after Tommy John surgery.

Strasburg struck Ozuna out that night, flashing a 99 mph fastball and a nasty curve.

Ozuna was impressed, but he remained confident.

"I thought to myself, 'I will see you again,'" said Ozuna, figuring he would get to the majors soon enough.

That next meeting happened Friday night, and Ozuna got the better of Strasburg, keying an 8-3 Miami Marlins victory over the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park.

Ozuna's three-run triple in the first inning and Giancarlo Stanton's two-run homer in the second were the big blows for Miami, contributing to the worst game of Strasburg's career in terms of fewest innings and most earned runs.

Nathan Eovaldi (2-0) got the win, shutting down the Nationals for five straight innings after a three-run first.

The Nationals nearly got back in the game in the seventh when, with two on and two out, Bryce Harper took reliever Ryan Webb's pitch deep to center. But Ozuna ran it down to preserve Miami's 7-3 lead.

"I knew he had gotten under it too much," Ozuna said. "We have a big park, especially to center field, and we use that to our advantage."

The Marlins added an RBI double by Adeiny Hechavarria in the bottom of the seventh.

Strasburg (5-7) lasted just two innings, allowing five hits, four walks and seven runs, all earned.

The two innings tied a career low that he set May 31. But his exit in that game was due to an oblique injury, not poor performance.

His seven runs allowed also tied his worst number, which came last year -- also against the Marlins. But in that game, two of Strasburg's runs were unearned.

Ozuna said he noticed that Strasburg's velocity was 95 mph and lower Friday night -- not the 99s he remembered from a couple of years ago.

Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Strasburg is not hurt -- it was just one of those nights.

"It can happen to anybody," Johnson said of Strasburg's poor start. "But it's remarkable it happened to him."

Strasburg's ERA went up from 2.45 to 2.99. He threw 66 pitches -- just half of them for strikes -- and struck out two batters.

Miami had been good to Strasburg previously. His three wins here were his most in any road park. And he won the final major league game ever played at Sun Life Stadium, beating the Marlins 3-1 on Sept. 28, 2011.

The Nationals loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning, sandwiching two walks around an Ian Desmond single. Adam LaRoche cashed in when he pulled a line-drive double to right and Jayson Werth had a run-scoring groundout to make it 3-0.

Strasburg, though, quickly gave up the lead, allowing five runs after walking the bases loaded with one out.

Ozuna's triple to left center tied the score at 3, Hechavarria extended his career-best hit streak to 11 games with a run-scoring single and even pitcher Nathan Eovaldi got an RBI hit to make it 5-3.

Strasburg faced 10 batters in the inning, including the pitcher, and got just two swings-and-misses.

"I couldn't throw strikes," Strasburg said. "It's frustrating."

Strasburg said his pitching mechanics were lacking.

"I think I was too much open to home plate to start, and that kind of messed everything up from there," he said. "If I fall off to the first-base side too much, then everything gets out of whack. I've been battling through it the past couple of starts. I've been able to make the adjustments. Tonight I was not able to do that."

Stanton, who snapped a 21-game streak without a home run, went the opposite way on a 3-2 pitch in the second inning. The distance of the homer was measured at 409 feet.

"He looked really good in batting practice today," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said of Stanton. "I mentioned to (hitting coach) Tino (Martinez) that it looked like he was back. He looked like a different guy, and it was good to see him translate that to the game."

NOTES: Marlins RHP Kevin Slowey, who had been slated to start Sunday, has been moved back in the rotation. Henderson Alvarez will now make Sunday's start, which will keep him on regular rest. ... The Marlins signed their top draft choice, 3B Colin Moran of the University of North Carolina. He reportedly received the slot bonus of $3.52 million and could arrive in the majors by late next season. ... RHP Jordan Zimmermann will attend the All Star Game but will not pitch because of a neck injury. The injury, though, is not expected to cause the Nationals to put Zimmermann on the disabled list. ... Harper on Tuesday will become the youngest All-Star starter in NL history. ... Hechavarria hit .316 from June 5 to July 11, the third-best average among NL shortstops during that span. ... Desmond moved into sole possession of second place on the franchise list for most games played with 551. He moved past Cristian Guzman but still trails 3B Ryan Zimmerman (1,069).
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