WASHINGTON (AP) — Jake Burger hit two of Miami's four home runs, Johnny Cueto struck out four in his return from a viral infection and the Marlins beat the Washington Nationals 11-5 Saturday to win a third consecutive game and keep pace in the NL wild-card race.
Jesús Sánchez and Bryan De La Cruz each hit a three-run home run off Washington starter Trevor Williams (6-9), who has given up a league-leading 33 this season. Burger's two gave him 30 homers this season and five since arriving in a trade Aug. 1 from the Chicago White Sox.
“There’s obviously a lot of energy in the dugout, and we’re just having fun,” Burger said. “We’re just playing our style of baseball and just trying to have as much fun as possible.”
Cueto (1-3) allowed two solo home runs in five-plus innings, including one to Lane Thomas in the sixth that ended his afternoon after allowing three earned runs on 77 pitches. That was in line with manager Skip Schumaker's expectation that the 37-year-old would be monitored and limited in his first start since Aug. 15.
“Every time I go to the mound, my mentality is to win games,” Cueto said through an interpreter. “All I can do is try to help the team.”
His teammates provided plenty of run support thanks to more Miami power hitting. Home runs have accounted for 68.9% of the Marlins' offense — 31 of 45 runs — since Aug. 18.
“I think it’s more about us just trying to drive the ball and not trying to hit home runs,” Burger said.
De La Cruz and NL-batting leader Luis Arraez each went 4 for 5. Arraez, making a rare start at first base, picked up his first four-hit game since July 15 to raise his average to .355 before getting taken out in the eight inning to get some rest.
Eight of the nine runs Williams gave up were earned, the other coming after shortstop CJ Abrams dropped a fly ball in shallow left field for his 19th fielding error of the season. Thomas also dropped a ball in right as part of an uninspired performance by the last-place Nationals, who have lost four in a row and six of their past seven.
Manager Dave Martinez said Williams had problems locating pitches and left many up in the zone.
Among the bright spots for Washington, recently recalled Drew Millas singled in the seventh for his first major league hit.
“I love watching those,” Martinez said. “He forgot to take his shin guard off, his foot guard — everything else. He started throwing it at (first base coach Eric Young Jr.). It’s pretty cool. To see these guys get their first hit is pretty awesome.”
MARLINS LOSE LÓPEZ
Miami lost right-handed reliever Jorge López to the AL-leading Baltimore Orioles, who claimed him off waivers Saturday. López had a 9.26 ERA in 12 appearances with the Marlins since they acquired him from Minnesota in late July.
“We think he’s a good pitcher,” Schumaker said. “Just didn’t really work out how he wanted it to work out, I think, at times as far as the outings are concerned.”
Schumaker said outfielder Jorge Soler, out of the lineup a fourth consecutive game because of right hip tightness, was feeling better and likely to avoid the injured list.
RHP Sandy Alcantara (6-12, 4.23 ERA) starts for the Marlins in the series finale Sunday afternoon against All-Star RHP Josiah Gray (7-11, 4.05) and the Nationals.
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