WASHINGTON -- On a wild, unpredictable Wednesday night, the Marlins lost their starting pitcher, but not their composure.
After Miami squandered a four-run lead, Casey McGehee, Reed Johnson and Donovan Solano delivered run-scoring hits in a four-run 10th inning that propelled the Marlins to an 8-5 win over the Nationals.
A crowd of 24,830 at Nationals Park watched Washington rally from down four runs, pulling even on Wilson Ramos' home run off A.J. Ramos in the seventh inning. The Nationals left runners on third in the eighth and ninth innings. They even scored in the 10th off closer Steve Cishek in a non-save situation.
The blemish on the night came when Miami announced starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez exited the game with right elbow stiffness. Alvarez threw five scoreless innings. The Marlins called the decision precautionary, and they feel confident the right-hander will be fine in a couple of days.
In the end, it was the Marlins who claimed an exhilarating win in a ballpark in which they've certainly had their struggles.
"I don't know where to begin," McGehee said. "I thought we did a lot of things really well tonight and a lot of things not very well tonight. But we had some guys step up on the mound and make some huge pitches when they had to."
Miami claimed both games played in three days at Washington for its first road series victory of the season.
"Huge," said Mike Dunn, who worked out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the eighth inning. "They're definitely one of the better teams in the league, let alone the National League. To come in and play two really good games against them. Tonight was really a rollercoaster. We were up big, then all of a sudden it was tied. My inning was whatever you want to call it. To be able to withstand it and come away with a W was huge."
In the 10th inning, McGehee snapped the 4-4 deadlock with a bases-loaded single off the wall in left off Aaron Barrett. Johnson delivered a two-run double, and Solano added an RBI single.
Three of the runs were charged to Jerry Blevins.
"It wasn't a perfect game by far," manager Mike Redmond said. "We made many mistakes, but we kept ourselves in it. We gave them a lot of opportunities, but they didn't capitalize on them, either. At the end it came down to who got the big hits, and we were fortunate to put together a big string of at-bats."
The Marlins are now 3-3 in extra innings. More importantly, they improved to 28-25 on the season, and they are a half-game behind the Braves for first place in the NL East.
Miami will open a three-game series with Atlanta on Friday at Marlins Park.
Alvarez's routine was thrown off this series because he was initially scheduled to start on Tuesday night. But the game was rained out, and the right-hander was bumped back one day.
"Throughout the game, I told them I wasn't feeling well," Alvarez said. "It was a little tight."
Alvarez said he won't need an MRI, and that he should be good to go for his next start.
Washington's rally from four runs down meant neither starter factored into the decision.
Miami tagged Jordan Zimmermann for four runs (three earned) in five innings. The right-hander exited after allowing eight hits.
The Marlins broke through with four runs in the fourth inning. Garrett Jones, Marcell Ozuna and Adeiny Hechavarria had RBI hits in the inning.
Miami made some baserunning blunders, including Christian Yelich getting thrown out in the first inning at third on a grounder to shortstop. Giancarlo Stanton tried to advance to third in the fourth inning on a McGehee single at a time Derek Dietrich was being held at third. And in the eighth inning, with two outs and two on, McGehee was picked off first base by catcher Wilson Ramos.
"It seems like everybody probably had something they're probably not real happy with tonight," McGehee said. "But at the same time, there should be a lot of guys feeling pretty good about the way the night went."
Washington was able to strike off Miami's relievers for five runs, with two earned off Chris Hatcher. Nate McLouth, who tied a career high with four hits, delivered a two-run double in the sixth, and the third run in the inning scored on Jones' two-out error, which allowed Denard Span to reach.
Turning points came in the later innings.
In the eighth inning, Dunn loaded the bases with no outs. The lefty walked McLouth, who stole second, and he walked pinch-hitter Scott Hairston. Span was credited with a bunt single on a ball Dunn threw away. But the saving play was Dietrich backing up first base to catch the wild throw, preventing the go-ahead run or runs from scoring.
"Really, the play of the game for me was Dietrich backing up the play with the bases loaded," Redmond said. "That ended up being a huge play. If that ball gets down that right-field line, it's game over for us."
Dunn needed 35 pitches to work out of a jam, striking out Anthony Rendon before getting Jayson Werth to pop out to third. The threat ended when Adam LaRoche bounced to first.
"I feel like we all got pitches to hit and it just didn't happen," LaRoche said. "We missed it."
When needed, the Marlins made the decisive plays.
"Tonight was meant for us to win that game," Redmond said.