WASHINGTON — Adam Dunn struck out in his first three at-bats Tuesday night. He was one strike away from another one when the Washington first baseman took a swing that changed the entire game.
Dunn capped a six-run eighth-inning rally with a two-run homer that gave the Washington Nationals a come-from-behind 6-4 victory over the Marlins.
He lined a 3-2 pitch from Dan Meyer over the left-field fence, breaking a 4-4 tie. Dunn was glad that starter Josh Johnson was gone after retiring 20 straight Nationals before running into trouble in the eighth.
“A different pitcher, thank God,” Dunn said. “When I got ahead in the count, I was looking for something that I could drive. But when I got to 3-2, again, I had no idea what was coming. He’s got a really good cutter-slider and a really good heater, so I just swung.”
Dunn now has struck out 122 times this season, and interim manager Jim Riggleman knows that’s part of the territory with him.
“He’s going to strike out, but he’s going to do what he did right there and what he did last night in Pittsburgh,” Riggleman said. “You’ve got a puncher’s chance with Adam. You can be on the ropes, but you get a couple guys on, and he can hurt you.”
Meyer said he thought he threw a good fastball that Dunn just hit a long way.
“That guy’s got power to all fields, and he hit the ball well,” Meyer said. “I’m really mad at myself, but there’s only so much you can do.”
The Nationals were trailing, 4-0, heading into the eighth and hadn’t gotten a base runner since the first inning. But that changed in the eighth inning with four straight hits to start the frame.
Pinch-hitter Ronnie Belliard’s two-run double was the final one, and that ended Johnson’s night.
Nyjer Morgan followed with an RBI groundout off Renyel Pinto before Cristian Guzman tied the game with a single to right off Kiko Calero (2-1).
Meyer came on and got the second out before Dunn belted his 28th homer. He also hit a homer in Monday’s 8-4 victory over the Pirates but thought that this rally against Johnson was something special.
“Against, in my opinion, the best pitcher in the game, a four-run lead, that’s pretty fat,” Dunn said. “But we grinded it out, grinded it out, grinded it out, and a couple of big hits and we were up. This is probably the best game because we weren’t sniffing him. I mean, you guys watched, he was filthy.”
Johnson came into the game leading the National League in winning percentage (.833) and struck out nine with no walks—even hitting a home run for the second straight start—but gave up four runs on four hits in the eighth inning.
“I was just keeping the ball down, and mixing in and out,” Johnson said. “I just kind of got away from it. They were aggressive there in the eighth inning.”
Ron Villone (4-5) got the victory in relief. Mike MacDougal came on in the ninth for his ninth save.
The Nationals’ victory ended a 10-game losing streak against Florida dating back to last season. The Marlins had won all nine games this season.
Florida took an early lead on an RBI single from former National Nick Johnson in the first and added solo homers from Cody Ross and Josh Johnson in the fourth to make it 3-0. Jeremy Hermida had an RBI single in the seventh to make it 4-0.