MIAMI — Vance Worley wasn’t good enough to make the Washington Nationals’ roster in spring training. He was good enough to beat them on Wednesday night.
The well-traveled veteran pitched seven innings to earn his first victory since May 2016, helping the Miami Marlins blank Washington 7-0.
Worley (1-2) allowed only two hits, and both baserunners were erased on double play grounders hit by Bryce Harper, which meant the right-hander faced the minimum number of batters.
“That’s not easy to do, especially against that lineup,” Worley said.
He lowered his ERA from 6.42 to 5.31 while facing the highest-scoring team in the National League.
“He was sharp tonight,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “He was around the plate. We were topping the ball and couldn’t center them, and when we did somebody was standing there. He threw a good game.”
Baker said Worley looked no different than in March, when the Nationals released him at the end of spring training.
“In the spring there just wasn’t room,” Baker said.
The Marlins took the rubber game of the three-game set and have won four consecutive series for the first time since late 2015. They’re still 12 games behind the NL East-leading Nationals, however.
Washington totaled only seven runs in the series against Miami’s injury-ravaged pitching staff, and three runs came on pitcher Max Scherzer’s first career homer. The Nationals scored in two of the 27 innings.
“It’s hard to throw up that many zeroes against us,” Baker said.
Dee Gordon tripled, singled twice, scored three times, drove in a run, stole two bases and made an acrobatic defensive play. Gordon extended his hitting streak to 13 games, matching his career high.
Christian Yelich and Derek Dietrich hit two-run homers off A.J. Cole (1-1).
“They weren’t bad pitches,” Cole said. “They were just right in their swing path, where you’re not supposed to throw those guys.”
Cole, recalled from Triple-A to make his second start of the year, allowed five runs in six innings.
That was no match for Worley, making his sixth start of the season. He retired the final 11 batters he faced in his longest outing in more than a year.
“Those guys are aggressive, I know that from the spring,” Worley said. “I line up against them again, and I’ll see if I can try to keep them off balance.”
Second baseman Gordon and center fielder Yelich helped Worley with terrific plays.
Harper went 0 for 3, ending his 12-game hitting streak.
Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton leaped at the wall to rob Brian Goodwin of a home run for the final out to preserve a four-hit shutout. Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Stanton was due to make a circus catch.
“He has had like four chances and missed like three in a row,” Mattingly said with a smile. “It was nice to be able to polish that off like that.”
Newly acquired reliever Brandon Kintzler made his first appearance with the Nationals and retired all four batters he faced, striking out two.
“He has a pretty good idea of what he wants to do,” Baker said.
Nationals: LHP Enny Romero left the game in the sixth inning with forearm tightness and might go on the disabled list, Baker said. Romero said he has never had an arm issue before. … Barring a setback, Scherzer (neck spasms) is expected to make his next start as scheduled. He left Tuesday’s game after pitching one inning and hitting his homer. … RHP Stephen Strasburg (right elbow nerve impingement) is eligible to come off the disabled list but will probably not return to pitch this weekend at Wrigley Field, Baker said. … 2B Daniel Murphy was given a day off.
Marlins: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (tired arm) threw a bullpen session and is on schedule to begin a rehab assignment in mid-August. He last pitched May 1.
To make room for Cole and Kintzler, the Nationals optioned LHP Sammy Solis and RHP Erick Fedde to Triple-A Syracuse.
Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (8-7, 4.93) is scheduled to start Friday against the surging Cubs at Wrigley Field. The three-game series could be a playoff preview. “They’ve turned it up,” Baker said. “There will be a lot of fan excitement.”
Marlins: LHP Adam Conley (4-3, 5.11) is scheduled to start when the Marlins open a three-game series Friday in Atlanta.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball