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Nationals top Marlins to take series

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- Ross Detwiler pitched seven strong innings to pick up his first win of the season and end his road woes, Bryce Harper made a triumphant return from the stomach flu with four hits, and Kurt Suzuki homered, tripled and drove in two runs as the Washington Nationals took their rubber match with the Miami Marlins, 6-1, Wednesday night.

"Outstanding game, great effort. Lot of good things," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.

Coming off a series sweep at home to the first-place Braves and having scored two runs or less in three of their last four games, Washington (9-6) rebounded by breaking out of its offensive funk early with a few manufactured runs off Marlins' starter Ricky Nolasco before Suzuki delivered the big blow -- a 370-foot solo blast to left to open the fifth.

An early 3-0 lead was all Detwiler really needed to pick up his second win in his last 14 road games. The 27-year-old left-hander scattered seven hits over seven innings and allowed just one earned run while striking out five on a career-high 107 pitches.

Shortstop Chris Valaika, starting for an injured Adeiny Hachaverria, who missed his first game of the season with a sore right elbow, scored the Marlins' lone run when he doubled and scored with a nifty slide on Donovan Solano's two-out RBI single to right in the fifth. Johnson came out to argue the call, but couldn't change plate umpire Greg Gibson's mind.

"I thought he called it right the first time and then he changed it," Johnson said. "We survived it. No big deal."

Detwiler came in having allowed just one earned run over his first 13 innings this season.

"He threw a lot of strikes, a lot of fastballs. We really weren't able to get anything going at all," Marlins' manager Mike Redmond said of Detwiler, who is now 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA on the season. "I like his approach. He goes up there and pounds the strike zone, threw just a handful of breaking balls. He moves that ball in and out. It has enough movement to keep guys off balance. We really didn't have a lot of good swings off him."

Nolasco, who came in with an 11-6 record and a 3.54 ERA in 21 appearances against Washington, including a pair of shutout victories over the Nationals during the final two months of last season, wasn't as fortunate at getting out of trouble.

Harper, who crushed a pair of solo home runs off Nolasco in the Nats' season-opening 2-0 win in Washington, had three of the Nationals' seven hits off Nolasco to raise his career average to .450 (9 of 20) against him. Harper, who was plugged into an IV before the game, led off the sixth with a double and then scored on Adam LaRoche's RBI single to left, which beat a drawn in infield.

"I just hope he doesn't turn into Chipper Jones for me where every time I break his bat or even make good pitches it's still a hit," Nolasco said. "I'm going to seeing him a lot so I'm looking forward to the challenge of getting him out more than he gets me. Good hitter. Great hitter."

The Nationals tacked on another run in the seventh off reliever Ryan Webb following a leadoff triple to left by Suzuki and a single by Seve Lombardozzi.

Marlins' backup first baseman Joe Mahoney, called up from Single-A Jupiter after spending a couple of weeks on the disabled list with an intercostal strain, pinch-hit in the seventh and reached on a fielding error by shortstop Ian Desmond. But Mahoney was quickly retired on a Juan Pierre bouncer.

The Nationals came in just 3-10 all-time in rubber games against the Marlins in South Florida since moving to Washington in 2005. They've won five of six against Miami this season.

Beating Nolasco hasn't been an easy chore for the Nationals over the years, but Washington managed to grab an early 3-1 lead against the veteran-right hander after five innings.

Back-to-back singles by LaRoche and Desmond to open the second inning put runners on the corners and led to the first two runs of the game. After Desmond stole second, Roger Bernadina put the Nationals ahead with a groundout to short. With Desmond on third base, catcher Kurt Suzuki made it a two-run cushion with a sacrifice fly to center.

Greg Dobbs and Austin Kearns opened the second with back-to-back singles for the Marlins (3-12). But Detwiler struck out Miguel Olivo, got Chris Valaika to fly out softly to center and then whiffed Nolasco to end the inning.

Placido Polanco doubled with two outs in the third, but was stranded there when Detwiler retired Justin Ruggiano on a groundout to third.

The game drew an announced crowd of 22,302 at Marlins Park.
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