WASHINGTON (AP) - In search of his first victory as manager of the Miami Marlins, Don Mattingly made his way from the visitors' dugout to the Nationals Park mound with one out in the fifth inning of a tight game.
It was a key moment: Washington's cleanup hitter, Ryan Zimmerman, was coming to the plate as the potential go-ahead run with two men on base. As Mattingly approached, Miami reliever David Phelps held the baseball behind his back.
"I didn't want to give it to him," Phelps said afterward. Didn't need to, it turned out. Mattingly let him stay in, and Phelps rewarded that trust by getting Zimmerman to fly out, then Jayson Werth to ground out, wrapping up four shutout innings following a 1-hour, 25-minute rain delay.
The righty also delivered his first career RBI at the plate, helping the Marlins win 6-4 Thursday to spoil the Nationals' sloppy home opener in front of a dwindling crowd.
"It's nice," Phelps said of Mattingly's decision. "He gives you a chance."
"We knew we were at the end of (Phelps') rope. It was still a right-handed situation, but if he was out of gas, he was out of gas," said Mattingly, the former New York Yankees first baseman who managed the Los Angeles Dodgers until this season. "But he had a really good look in his eye. And I asked, 'Can you get this guy?' He was like, 'I got him. I'm good.'"
While Phelps (1-0) replaced Adam Conley after a thunderstorm in the second with the score 3-all, Nationals starter Tanner Roark (0-1) surprisingly remained in the game. Roark allowed four runs — three earned, all in the first — and nine hits in four innings.
"We were getting pretty close to when it was going to be too long" for Roark to come back out, Washington manager Dusty Baker said.
Roark stayed loose by throwing every 15 minutes or so in the indoor batting cages.
"I wasn't laboring or wasn't tired or anything like that," he said. "I felt like my pitches were a lot better after I came out after the rain delay."
Bryce Harper was presented with his 2015 NL MVP and Silver Slugger trophies, along with a key to the city by Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, during pregame festivities. In the seventh inning, he hit his second homer of 2016, a no-doubt-about-it solo shot off Bryan Morris.
Harper then flied out to deep center to open the ninth against A.J. Ramos, who worked around a walk for his first save, striking out Daniel Murphy looking to end it.
Of his long ball that came up just short in the ninth, Harper said: "I thought it was 10 rows deep, to tell you the truth. Maybe in June or July, that's possible. But it's still an out. Didn't hit it well enough, I guess."
Washington had allowed a total of four runs over 19 innings in its first two games, a pair of victories at Atlanta. And Miami came in 0-2 after a pair of losses against visiting Detroit in which the Marlins never led.
But on Thursday, the Nationals were outhit 13-6. They went 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position and made an error that led to the go-ahead run.
"Just be patient," Baker said, "because that's what I'm forced to do."
Marlins: RHP Tyler Kolek, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft, had Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, president of baseball operations Mike Hill said. ... If LHP Wei-Yin Chen, hit above his left elbow by a batted ball Tuesday, winds up unable to make his next start, Conley would take his place, Mattingly said.
Nationals: CF Ben Revere (15-day DL; strained right oblique) had an MRI exam, but results weren't immediately available.
After Friday's day off, the Marlins send RHP Tom Koehler to the mound against Nationals RHP Joe Ross, who went 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA at home as a rookie last season.
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