Florida at Washington

W: J. Rauch (1-0) L: J. Julio (0-1)
HR: FLA - C. Ross (1), M. Cabrera (2), M. Jacobs (1)   WAS - R. Church (1)

Ninth-inning rally gives Nationals relief, Acta first win

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

WASHINGTON -- Robert Fick sprinted across the diamond to wrap his arms around Dmitri Young. Then Young sought out Manny Acta for a hearty embrace. Most of the Washington Nationals gathered near the mound to hug, high-five and hop in unison.

Then they raced to the clubhouse, where the music blared and the champagne flowed.

Won the pennant? Not quite. The cause for celebration Wednesday? Washington's ninth-inning rally to beat the Florida Marlins 7-6 -- the Nationals' first victory of the season and Acta's first win as a major league manager. There also was Young's first key hit of his second chance, and Fick's first truly happy moment lately.

"It was kind of fun to see the players go out there. You know, we just snapped a two-game losing streak, and they're celebrating like we clinched the (NL) East. That tells me a lot about their character," said Acta, who received bottles of bubbly from the Nationals and from his former employer, New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya.

Washington lost the season's first two games to Florida by a combined score of 18-5, and then Wednesday trailed 5-0 and 6-1. It was 6-4 heading to the bottom of the ninth, but Young's bases-loaded single with one out off closer Jorge Julio (0-1) completed the comeback. Young hit an arching ball toward the left-field corner, and outfielder Josh Willingham let it drop, hoping it would land foul.

"I knew it was going to be close," Willingham said. "That was the only play I had."

His manager, Fredi Gonzalez, agreed.

"He ain't going to throw him out at the plate there," Gonzalez said. "I thought it was a head's-up play."

But the ball dropped on the dirt, about a foot fair, and Young raised a fist while he ran to first and Kory Casto crossed the plate with the game-ending run.

"Dramatic fashion," Young noted.

He was cut by the Tigers last season, then arrived at Washington's minor league spring training camp less than two months ago with a non-guaranteed contract, a "zero tolerance" policy thanks to off-field issues that landed him in court and a rehab center in 2006, and plenty to prove.

Young emerged from a three-player competition to start at first while Nick Johnson recovers from a broken leg, and now is hitting .333 with three RBI.

"It's been a long road back for Dmitri," said Fick, who's known Young since their days at nearby high schools in California, then played with him in Detroit. "Everybody in this clubhouse loves him."

Fick, who had an RBI single off Julio in the three-run ninth, knew about his pal's problems, but also has his own concerns: Fick's mother is battling cancer.

"We're there for each other. I know his mother well, and we pray for her, for his family," Young said. "Nobody should go through that situation."

What Fick and Young and pretty much everyone in the Nationals' clubhouse also wanted to talk about was how Acta's steady hand kept the team from getting too down as it appeared headed to a season-opening sweep.

"We are a generally young team, with the exception of myself and a couple of other guys," Young said. "If you see the manager panic, the players are going to panic. He didn't panic. We didn't panic."

The bullpen threw five shutout innings, including Jon Rauch (1-0), who struck out the only two batters he faced in the ninth.

Ronnie Belliard led off the last half-inning with a double, and Fick drove him in. After Felipe Lopez's sacrifice, 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, and Austin Kearns walked to load the bases, setting up Young.

"Contagious," Zimmerman said.

Washington is trying to rebuild after three consecutive last-place finishes and relies on some players with little-to-no big league experience.

Wednesday's starter, 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.

"Everyone thinks were going to lose anyway," Zimmerman said. "We might as well go out there and play free, and that's what we did today."


  • Miguel Cabrera, Mike Jacobs and Cody Ross homered off Chico. Ryan Church homered off Florida starter Anibal Sanchez.
  • With SS Cristian Guzman on the DL, the Nationals started their third shortstop in three games, with Lopez moving over from 2B. Ronnie Belliard started at second.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
Conversation powered by Livefyre
Dmitri Young (right) is all smiles after his game-winning single, which caps the Nationals' rally.  (AP)
Dmitri Young (right) is all smiles after his game-winning single, which caps the Nationals' rally. (AP)

Players of the Game

M. Jacobs
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1

R. Church
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1

Related Video

Florida Marlins
Hanley Ramirez, SS5220011 .429
Dan Uggla, 2B4011012 .154
Miguel Cabrera, 3B3121102 .700
Josh Willingham, LF4011002 .286
Mike Jacobs, 1B4221002 .385
Cody Ross, RF4112002 .250
Miguel Olivo, C4000010 .231
Alejandro De Aza, CF4010010 .333
Anibal Sanchez, P3000020 .000
    Renyel Pinto, P0000000 .000
    Matt Lindstrom, P0000000 .000
    Randy Messenger, P0000000 .000
   a- Jason Wood, PH0000000 .000
    Jorge Julio, P0000000 .000
a-hit a sacrifice bunt for Messenger in the 9th
2B - Josh Willingham (2, Speigner)
3B - Hanley Ramirez (1, Chico)
HR - Miguel Cabrera (2, Chico), Mike Jacobs (1, Chico), Cody Ross (1, Chico)
SF - Dan Uggla (1)
SH - Jason Wood (1)
RBI - Dan Uggla (2), Miguel Cabrera (6), Josh Willingham (3), Mike Jacobs (3), Cody Ross 2 (2)
2-OUT RBI - Mike Jacobs (1)
Team LOB - 5
DP - H. Ramirez-Uggla-Jacobs
Florida Marlins
Anibal Sanchez 5.21044011 6.35
Renyel Pinto (H,1) 1000020 0.00
Matt Lindstrom (H,1) 0.1000000 0.00
Randy Messenger (H,1) 1100010 0.00
Jorge Julio (BS,1; L,0-1) 0.1533100 20.25
Pitches-Strikes - Anibal Sanchez 91-66, Renyel Pinto 11-7, Matt Lindstrom 4-2, Randy Messenger 11-6, Jorge Julio 23-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Anibal Sanchez 7-8, Renyel Pinto 1-0, Jorge Julio 1-0
Batters Faced - Anibal Sanchez 26, Renyel Pinto 3, Matt Lindstrom 1, Randy Messenger 4, Jorge Julio 7
Washington Nationals
Felipe Lopez, SS4020010 .333
Kory Casto, LF5111012 .222
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B5020001 .385
Austin Kearns, RF-CF4120101 .273
Dmitri Young, 1B5121002 .333
Brian Schneider, C4111001 .100
Ryan Church, CF4123011 .300
    Ray King, P0000000 .000
    Jon Rauch, P0000000 .000
Ronnie Belliard, 2B4130011 .600
Matt Chico, P1000000 .000
    Levale Speigner, P0000000 .000
    Micah Bowie, P0000000 .000
   a- D'Angelo Jimenez, PH1000001 .000
    Jesus Colome, P0000000 .000
   b- Chris Snelling, PH0000000 .250
   c- Jesus Flores, PH1000001 .000
    Ryan Wagner, P0000000 .000
    Robert Fick, RF1111000 .333
a-fouled out for Bowie in the 5th
b-announced for Colome in the 6th
c-grounded out for Snelling in the 6th
2B - Austin Kearns (1, Sanchez), Ryan Church (2, Sanchez), Ronnie Belliard 2 (2, Sanchez, Julio)
HR - Ryan Church (1, Sanchez)
SH - Felipe Lopez (1)
RBI - Kory Casto (1), Dmitri Young (3), Brian Schneider (3), Ryan Church 3 (3), Robert Fick (1)
2-OUT RBI - Ryan Church 3 (3)
Team LOB - 9
DP - F. Lopez-Belliard-Young
E - Ray King (1, Throwing), Ryan Zimmerman (1, Misplayed grounder)
Washington Nationals
Matt Chico 4866033 13.50
Levale Speigner 0.1100000 3.38
Micah Bowie 0.2000000 10.80
Jesus Colome 1000010 0.00
Ryan Wagner 2000100 2.70
Ray King 0.1100000 9.00
Jon Rauch (W,1-0) 0.2000020 0.00
IBB - Cabrera by Ryan Wagner
Pitches-Strikes - Matt Chico 55-37, Levale Speigner 9-5, Micah Bowie 9-5, Jesus Colome 9-6, Ryan Wagner 25-14, Ray King 2-2, Jon Rauch 10-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Chico 2-7, Micah Bowie 1-1, Jesus Colome 1-1, Ryan Wagner 3-3, Ray King 1-0
Batters Faced - Matt Chico 20, Levale Speigner 2, Micah Bowie 2, Jesus Colome 3, Ryan Wagner 7, Ray King 2, Jon Rauch 2
Game Information
Attendance - 18835
Game Time - 2:41
Temperature - 48
Umpires - Home - Eric Cooper, First Base - James Hoye, Second Base - Mike Reilly, Third Base - Jeff Kellogg