WASHINGTON (AP) — Manager Dave Martinez gave Anthony Rendon the option of sitting out a late-morning start after a night game.
The All-Star third baseman told Martinez he wanted to play, and he made the most of it.
Rendon hit his 20th homer and knocked in the go-ahead run to help the Washington Nationals finish a three-game sweep of the last-place Miami Marlins with a 5-2 victory Thursday.
Selected for the NL All-Star team for the first time in his seventh season, Rendon is considering pulling out of next week’s festivities in Cleveland to nurse some bumps and bruises. At the plate and in the field, Rendon looked no worse for wear.
“He’s a professional,” Martinez said. “He’s the constant in our lineup that makes things go, and you saw that today.”
Washington has won eight of nine and 13 of 16 to climb to a season-best four games over .500.
Kurt Suzuki homered in the second inning to extend the Montreal Expos/Nationals franchise record for consecutive games with a home run to 18. Rendon hit a solo shot in the fourth off Elieser Hernández (1-3) and drove in Gerardo Parra with a single in the fifth.
Parra, the newcomer responsible for sparking the Nationals’ dugout home run celebrations, drove in two insurance runs with a double in the sixth, creating some important rest for Washington’s most-used relievers.
“Obviously multi-run homers are better,” Suzuki said. “But having those big two-out RBIs like Parra had today, that’s the backbreaker. They walk Trea (Turner) to get to Parra with the lefty and he smokes a double. That’s the dagger right there.”
Reliever Javy Guerra escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, and 42-year-old Fernando Rodney rode the bullpen cart and hit 99 mph on the radar gun while earning his second save of the season.
“Sometimes you have to put something extra on the hitter and let him know,” Rodney said.
Washington right-hander Aníbal Sánchez (5-6) allowed one earned run and five hits in six innings. He hasn’t lost since returning from the injured list in late May.
RARE MARLINS DINGER
Miguel Rojas connected on Sánchez’s fifth pitch of the game, hitting his first homer of the season and No. 65 for Miami. The Marlins began the day last in the majors in home runs, six behind 29th-place Detroit.
“That’s really nice to get it out of the way,” Rojas said. “I feel like the potential to hit homers, it can happen from one day to another. At the same time, that takes the pressure away that you didn’t have a homer.”
SÁNCHEZ STAYS HOT
Before going on the IL in mid-May with a left hamstring strain, Sánchez was 0-6 with a 5.10 ERA. In seven starts since coming back May 29, he’s 5-0 with a 2.18 ERA.
“We talk about mixing his pitches, keeping guys off balance, but the key for him is he’s effective when the ball’s down,” Martinez said.
HERNANDEZ FINDS TROUBLE
After recording four of his first six outs by strikeout, Hernández ran into all sorts of problems: two hit batters, a wild pitch and enough mistakes and hard-hit balls to end his day at 99 pitches. Rendon’s RBI single in the fifth was enough for manager Don Mattingly to give Hernández the hook in favor of reliever Jarlín Garcia.
“I have to make less mistakes,” Hernández said.
Nationals ace Max Scherzer is on the paternity list. He is expected to make his start Saturday on Montreal Expos day.
Marlins: Mattingly said OF Brian Anderson (elbow contusion) remains sore. He grounded out as a pinch hitter in the ninth. … LHP Caleb Smith (left hip inflammation) is scheduled to come off the injured list and start Saturday. Smith has missed the last 25 games.
Marlins: RHP Jordan Yamamoto (3-0, 2.35 ERA) faces the Braves for the first time as Miami begins a three-game series in Atlanta on Friday night.
Nationals: RHP Austin Voth (0-0, 4.35 ERA) makes his third start of the season in Friday night’s series opener against RHP Brad Keller (4-9, 4.63 ERA) and the Kansas City Royals.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports