WASHINGTON -- For the third time this month and the second time this week the Marlins' pitching staff has been rocked by an elbow injury.
Henderson Alvarez was in the midst of his second consecutive outstanding performance Wednesday, holding the Nationals scoreless for five innings on five hits, when he was removed for precautionary reasons with stiffness to his right elbow.
Leading by four runs when Alvarez exited, the Marlins' let it evaporate over the next two innings but rallied for an 8-5 victory in 10 innings to move to within one-half game of first-place Atlanta in the National League East.
Casey McGehee drove in the go-ahead run with his fourth hit of the game off Aaron Barrett, and Reed Johnson followed with a two-run double as the Marlins swept a series shortened to two games by a rainout.
But their third win in the past 15 games at Nationals Park was bittersweet with another pitcher ailing.
Marlins ace Jose Fernandez underwent season-ending elbow surgery earlier this month. Reliever Carter Capps went on the disabled list Tuesday with discomfort in his right elbow.
Alvarez didn't yield a run for the second consecutive start. He shut out the Phillies for seven innings on four hits in his previous outing.
A key sign of how things may go for Alvarez is whether balls are being hit on the ground. Only two were hit in the air in the first four innings, both liners caught in the outfield.
There was no discernible drop in the velocity of his fastball, which registered in the mid 90s throughout the outing. In his final inning he gave up two singles and got two outs on flies to center.
Alvarez, acquired in the November 2012 trade with Toronto, missed the first three months of last season with shoulder inflammation. He pitched a no-hitter in the final game of 2013 against Detroit, and this season threw two shutouts, the Marlins' only two complete games.
Everything changed after Alvarez left as the Marlins had to dig deep into a shaky bullpen, which coughed up three runs in a 32-pitch sixth inning.
Chris Hatcher, recently up from Triple-A New Orleans, gave up a two-run double to Nate McLouth. Dan Jennings, also just up from New Orleans, nearly held it there, but first baseman Garrett Jones threw wildly to Jennings covering on what should have been an inning-ending grounder by Denard Span. It took a catch at the wall by Giancarlo Stanton to avert more trouble.
Wilson Ramos' first home run of the season in the seventh off A.J. Ramos tied it at 4.
Reliever Mike Dunn somehow escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam while throwing 35 pitches in the eighth.
The Marlins put together a four-run fourth off Jordan Zimmermann on five singles despite getting two runners thrown out on the bases in the inning. Right fielder Jayson Werth's throwing error following Adeiny Hechavarria's single, enabled Marcell Ozuna to scamper home with the fourth run (unearned) just before Hechavarria was thrown out trying to advance to second.
Jones, Ozuna and Hechavarria delivered run-scoring hits in the inning. Earlier, Stanton was thrown out when he raced around second on Casey McGehee's single, not noticing that Derek Dietrich was being held at third.
Stanton, who usually punishes the Nationals with his bat in this park, turned in a defensive gem when he dashed to right-center to grab Kevin Frandsen's sinking liner, then spun and threw a one-hopped to first to double off Ian Desmond.
It was the fifth double play Stanton has started in his career, the the first since 2012. He got another assist in the ninth.
Marlins manager Mike Redmond was among those who questioned the quick call on Tuesday's rainout.
With a heavy thunderstorm delaying the 7:05 p.m. start, the Nationals waited only 10 minutes before announcing the postponement. The rain stopped about an hour later and didn't return.
Asked if he went out later for an evening stroll in the city, Redmond said facetiously, "I did. I didn't even need an umbrella."
Redmond added, "I think it seemed early to call it. But that's their call and there's not a whole lot we can do about it, just be ready to play (Wednesday)."
The home team has the option of calling off a game prior to the start due to inclement weather.
In a city where conspiracy theories abound, there were suspicions that the Nationals were eager for the rainout to avoid having to start right-hander Blake Treinen, a rookie with no big-league victories who was filling in for injured Gio Gonzalez. They were able to skip Treinen on Wednesday in favor of veteran Zimmermann on regular rest.
The Nationals also have two of their best hitters, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper, on the disabled list. The game will be rescheduled for the final weekend of the season in September when those players may conceivably be able to play.
"It was nasty at the time," Redmond said of the weather at the time of the postponement. "They made a decision and that's it. We'll play when they tell us to play, that's all we can do."
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