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MIA 5, WSH 2; Wendle Celebrates Birthday with HR, Marlins Win

The Fish improved to 3-1 on their road trip.

Miami Marlins shortstop Joey Wendle (18) celebrates with Marlins designated hitter Garrett Cooper (26) and Marlins center fielder Jesus Sanchez (7) at home plate after hitting a three run home run during the fourth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Savor this moment, for the Miami Marlins offense provided their ace pitcher Sandy Alcantara with run support. Alcantara gave up one run and struck out five in six innings and picked up his second win of the season.

In his last outing against the St. Louis Cardinals April 20, Alcantara tossed eight shutout innings that resulted in a no-decision and a 2-0 loss. He was not as sharp on Tuesday in terms of his command or control, leaving a lot of pitches in hittable spots and throwing only 60% of his pitches for strikes. Even so, it was good enough for his third quality start in a row.

Marlins now have two members of their rotation who rank among the top 10 in ERA in the majors. Alcantara is 10th in baseball with a 1.78 and Pablo López is 2nd with a 0.52 ERA.

Joey Wendle—who celebrated his birthday Tuesday night—hit a three-run home run to center field to open the scoring in the fourth inning.

Marlins catcher Jacob Stallings, who had struggled at the plate with a .171 AVG coming into Tuesday, added a couple of insurance runs for Miami. He ripped a line drive off the glove of shortstop Alcides Escobar in the sixth inning to score Garrett Cooper and a soft ground ball to score Wendle in the eighth.

Alcantara limited the Nats to one run in large part thanks to the outfield defense behind him. With one out in the fourth inning, center fielder Jesús Sánchez threw out Josh Bell at home after a Keibert Ruiz single. On the very next at-bat, right fielder Avisaíl García threw out Yadiel Hernández at the plate after a Maikel Franco single. This kept the score at 3-1. Both throws were clocked in at 91 mph.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time outfielders connected with the catcher to throw a runner out on back-to-back plays within the same inning in MLB was on July 18, 2009 by the Orioles. The last time the Marlins did it was in 1996 when Joe Orsulak accomplished the feat.

Miami Marlins right fielder Avisail Garcia (24) and Marlins center fielder Jesus Sanchez (7) celebrate after defeating the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

After being sidelined for nearly a week by a hip issue, Anthony Bender made his return to the mound and earned a save by inducing back-to-back-to-back grounders.

Through four starts this season, Alcantara still hasn’t suffered a losing decision. It is the longest such streak of his career, and a testament to how frequently his supporting cast let him down in the past.

Don Mattingly’s Postgame Press Conference

Win Probability Chart - Marlins @ Nationals Baseball Savant

The Marlins and Nats play game two of the series at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday in Washington. Pablo López will take the mound against Erick Fedde. The Marlins are 8-8 and will aim to go above .500 in a 162-game season for the first time since August 2017.