Florida Marlins Implode in the Ninth

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hugging, high-fiving and bouncing in unison near the mound, the Washington Nationals celebrated their first win of the season as if they were World Series champions.

Dmitri Young's bases-loaded single with one out in the ninth completed a comeback from a five-run deficit, and the Nationals beat the Florida Marlins 7-6 Wednesday.

Young hit an arching ball toward the left-field corner, and outfielder Josh Willingham let it drop in, hoping it would land foul. But the ball fell a few inches fair, and Young raised a fist in the air as he ran to first and Kory Casto crossed the plate with the game-ending run.

Robert Fick, who delivered an RBI single earlier in Washington's three-run ninth off closer Jorge Julio (0-1), sprinted over to embrace Young.

That made a winner of Jon Rauch (1-0), who struck out the only two batters he faced in the ninth.

With homers from Miguel Cabrera, Mike Jacobs and Cody Ross, the Marlins built leads of 5-0 and 6-1, before Ryan Church's three-run homer off Anibal Sanchez in the sixth made it 6-4.

That was the score heading into the bottom of the ninth, but Ronnie Belliard led off with a double, and Fick's single cut Washington's deficit to one run. After a sacrifice moved Fick to second, Casto was credited with a single and his first major league RBI when his liner bounced off shortstop Hanley Ramirez's chest and into the outfield to tie the score. Ryan Zimmerman singled, moving Casto to third, and Austin Kearns walked to load the bases, setting up Young.

With the win, the Nationals avoided the franchise's first 0-3 start since the 1998 Expos. Florida outscored Washington 18-5 in winning the series' first two games and was trying to get to 3-0 for the first time since the Marlins' 1997 World Series championship team.

Instead, Nationals manager Manny Acta was able to celebrate his first victory as a major league manager. Washington is trying to rebuild after three consecutive last-place finishes and relies on some players with little-to-no big league experience.

The starting pitcher, Matt Chico, was making his first appearance above Double-A. The left fielder, Casto, was making his second. Jesus Flores never appeared in a game above Class A before pinch hitting Wednesday. Levale Speigner's sum total of major league experience before relieving Chico were the 2 1-3 innings he threw Monday.

Chico's problems began in the second. Jacobs led off with an infield single, and Ross followed by driving the first pitch he saw this season into the upper deck in left for a 2-0 lead.

Florida tacked on three runs in the third, thanks to Ramirez's triple, Dan Uggla's sacrifice fly, and homers by Cabrera into the mezzanine in left and Jacobs into the home bullpen in right.

To that point of the young season, Cabrera was 7-for-9 (.778) with two homers, two doubles, six RBIs and four walks.

Notes

Cabrera has more homers (17) against the Expos-Nationals than any other franchise. ... With SS Cristian Guzman on the DL, the Nationals started their third shortstop in three games, with Felipe Lopez moving over from 2B. Ronnie Belliard started at second.


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