WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and starter Gio Gonzalez and the bullpen made it stand up as the Washington Nationals posted a 3-2 victory over the Miami Marlins on Thursday night.
The victory kept Washington's faint hopes for a wild card berth alive. Because Cincinnati was idle, the win allowed the Nationals (82-71) to pull within five games of the Reds for the final wild card spot. Both teams have nine games remaining.
Washington also saw Denard Span's 29-game hitting streak come to an end. He went 0-for-4 and his streak -- the longest in the major leagues this year -- was stopped. A hit would have tied Span with Ryan Zimmerman for the team's longest streak (30), which was set in 2009.
Gonzalez (11-7) gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings. He allowed single runs in the first and sixth and worked out of a few other jams. The left-hander stepped in for scheduled starter Stephen Strasburg, who was pushed back to Saturday because of concerns about his right forearm.
Drew Storen (seventh) and Tyler Clippard (eighth) combined to take care of the next two innings and set up closer Rafael Soriano, who locked up his 42nd save in the ninth.
After Harper's homer off Henderson Alvarez (4-5) gave the Nationals a 3-1 lead in the first, the Marlins (56-97) threatened a few times but couldn't get the job done.
Justin Ruggiano's RBI single cut the Washington lead to 3-2 in the sixth. Miami then put runners on first and third with two outs in the seventh against Storen, but he got Christian Yelich to fly out.
The Marlins drew two walks off Soriano and had runners on first and second with two outs in the ninth, but Yelich struck out to end the game.
The Marlins didn't waste any time taking an early lead. Donovan Solano doubled off Gonzalez to start the game and Ed Lucas followed with an RBI single to center for a 1-0 lead after just two batters.
That lead didn't last long as Harper belted his three-run homer off Alvarez in the bottom of the first. Zimmerman (single) and Jayson Werth (walk) both reached before Harper's one-out blast gave the Nationals a 3-1 advantage.
Alvarez then drilled Ian Desmond on the arm after the home run, which prompted home plate umpire Bill Welke to immediately issue warnings to both benches. Moments later, Welke threw out Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr as both teams argued.
The Marlins threatened again in the third, loading the bases with two outs before Gonzalez got Placido Polanco to fly out.
NOTES: The Nationals acquired minor-league LHP Matthew Spann from Tampa Bay to complete the David DeJesus trade from Aug. 23. Spann had a 4-3 record with Class A Bowling Green this season. ... Harper's first-inning home run was his first homer this month. His last one came Aug. 29 against the Miami Marlins. ... The Marlins entered this game looking for their first win at Nationals Park this year. They were 0-6. ... 1B Ed Lucas got hits in his first two at-bats for Miami. He has at least two hits in five consecutive games.