Suzuki shines at bat and in field, helps Miami beat Nats 5-1
MIAMI (AP) Ichiro Suzuki quietly cleaned his cleats in a noisy postgame clubhouse Thursday before packing the shoes for his next game, which will be No. 2,368.
No. 2,367 went well.
Suzuki had two hits, scored twice and made two sliding catches in right field for the Miami Marlins, who used a makeshift lineup to beat Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals 5-1.
''Vintage Ichiro,'' winning pitcher Tom Koehler said. ''It seems like he's drinking from the fountain of youth right now and playing some phenomenal baseball.''
Bryce Harper hit his eighth home run for Washington, boosting his majors-leading RBIs total to 22.
The 42-year-old Suzuki batted leadoff for the first time this season and started in right field for a slumping Giancarlo Stanton, who was given the day off.
''I didn't know I was going to lead off today,'' the veteran from Japan said through a translator. ''That was a surprise when I got here. But I'm ready to play when they call on me. I'll do everything except pitch.''
Also sitting out for the Marlins at the start of the series finale were Dee Gordon and J.T. Realmuto. But the lineup shake-up produced four runs in the first two innings against Scherzer (2-1).
''Everyone on this team is a major leaguer, so everyone can play, and on any given day they're just as good as anybody else,'' Koehler said. ''I mean, Ichiro started. It's not like we ran out there someone no one has heard of before.''
Suzuki helped to tire Scherzer by fouling off a total of seven two-strike pitches in his second and third trips to the plate.
''If I was a pitcher, I wouldn't like that,'' Suzuki said.
Marcell Ozuna hit a three-run homer, his second. Koehler (1-2) and four relievers combined on a two-hitter, while Scherzer allowed five runs in five innings.
''The swing-and-misses aren't there,'' Scherzer said, ''and I feel like that's a lack of me finishing pitches and coming up with the right sequence.''
Miami improved to 2-7 at home and managed a split of the four-game series.
''Right now the wins are not really coming very often,'' manager Don Mattingly said. ''Each one we can get hopefully gives us a chance to build momentum. Hopefully this is the start of us playing well.''
Three of the Nationals' four losses have come against the Marlins.
Harper homered in the first, and that was only run allowed in five innings by Koehler, who earned just the second victory by a Marlins starter.
Four relievers combined to retire the final 12 batters. The Nationals didn't have a hit after Wilson Ramos led off the second with an infield single.
''It was kind of a flat day,'' Washington manager Dusty Baker said. ''To me we were just a little bit sluggish.''
Suzuki singled to start the game for his 2,941st hit in the majors. Christian Yelich also singled, and Ozuna - batting .196 - hit his second home run of the year.
Miami added another run in the second on Martin Prado's RBI single.
Suzuki hiked his average to .389 and had six putouts, including catches to rob Michael Taylor and Daniel Murphy.
''Normal plays,'' Suzuki said. ''The second one got in the lights, and I kind of got lucky on that one.''
Mattingly was more impressed.
''Pretty good, huh?'' the manager said. ''A couple of really nice plays out there, and a couple of hits. Nice to rest Giancarlo and to be able to replace him with a guy like that.''
Murphy, the MLB batting leader, went 0 for 3 to drop his average to .404. Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth took the day off for the Nationals.
Before the game, the Marlins recalled RHP Jose Urena from Triple-A New Orleans and LHP Chris Narveson was designated for assignment. RHP Dustin McGowan was outrighted to New Orleans.
Nationals: Begin a three-game series Friday at home against Minnesota, with LHP Gio Gonzalez (0-0, 0.69) scheduled to start against RHP Kyle Gibson (0-2, 3.57).
Marlins: Start a 10-game trip Friday at San Francisco, with RHP Jarred Cosart (0-0, 6.10) scheduled to pitch against RHP Jeff Samardzija (1-1, 3.72).