Two pitches into his pinch-hit at-bat, Brown lifted a ball to right field to give the Nationals a patience-testing and zany 7-6 win over the Marlins. Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, playing to prevent any doubles, tracked down the ball but it squirted out of his glove. Ian Desmond, holding up at third base, then raced home.
Brown capped the dramatic ending but Jayson Werth started it. In the first at-bat after the delay, Werth led off the bottom of the ninth with a game-tying home run off Marlins closer Heath Bell. It was yet another absurd ending to a Nationals game, six hours after it started.
“Had a nice little rain delay,” Werth said. “Got a little massage, changed clothes, had a chicken salad and tied it up. It was well-written.”
It was the Nationals’ 18th win this season in their final at-bat. They maintained a 6.5-game lead in the National League East, their magic number to reach the clinch the division dwindling to 17.
“I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time,” Brown said. “It felt good I was able to get the job done.”
Fast-moving clouds, winds and rain consumed Nationals Park in the top of the ninth inning while reliever Tyler Clippard pitched to keep the Nationals’ deficit at 6-5. Starter Ross Detwiler settled down from a rocky start, a small strike zone and a fielding error behind him to toss five innings, allowing five runs, three earned. The frustration over balls and strikes even got Monday’s starter, Gio Gonzalez, ejected from the dugout in the first inning by home plate umpire Todd Tichenor for arguing balls and strikes.
The Nationals chipped away at the Marlins leads of 3-0 and 5-2 with solo home runs by Jesus Flores in the third inning and Bryce Harper in the fifth and an RBI single by Danny Espinosa in the fourth, all off Marlins starter Mark Buerhle.
Ryan Zimmerman slammed a two-run home run in the eighth inning that chopped the deficit to 6-5. Espinosa and pinch-hitter Roger Bernadina struck out with two runners in scoring position, ending the Nationals’ chance to take the lead in the inning.
Then came the rain. Clippard worked under the drizzle but after he notched three outs it was too much to continue. Dust, trash and water blew across the sky. Players retreated to the dugouts to wait and wait.
There appeared to be an opening to resume play around 6 p.m. General Manager Mike Rizzo was worried the game would be called with three outs remaining. They waited 15 minutes and decided to move quickly before rain resumed. Teams were given an 11-minute notice. Bell warmed up on the mound.