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WASHINGTON (AP) — A year after finishing last in the NL East with 100 losses, manager Mike Redmond and the Miami Marlins are finding some solace in having a chance to come in second place.
They also are appreciative of games that show what some of their younger up-from-the-minors players can do, even if the opponent doesn't exactly care about the result. One example came Friday night, when Kike Hernandez's grand slam, J.T. Realmuto's three-run triple and Adeiny Hechavarria's four hits helped Miami beat the NL East champion Washington Nationals 15-7 for a doubleheader split.
After accumulating 22 hits and scoring their most runs since a 16-10 victory over the Nationals on Sept. 1, 2010, according to STATS, the Marlins found themselves tied for second in the division with the Braves and Mets with two games to go.
"That's actually pretty exciting, thinking from where we were last year to this year," Redmond said. "To be playing for second place, from last year to this year — it's a testament to those guys in that room over there. They've given me everything they have all year. It would be nice to win a couple more and see if we can do it."
Those last two games also will come against a Nationals club with nothing to play for over the weekend. That's because Washington clinched home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs by winning Friday's opener 4-0 on Doug Fister's three-hitter.
Washington used only two regulars in the nightcap. One, right fielder Jayson Werth, had a single, double and triple and threw out a runner.
Realmuto, a catcher never above Double-A until this year, cleared the bases during Miami's five-run fifth against Taylor Hill (0-1), who was making his first major league start. Hernandez's first career slam came off Craig Stammen in the ninth.
A.J. Ramos (7-0) earned the win with a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
"We've been struggling to score runs for the better half of this month right now," said Realmuto, who was 3 for 5 in the second game, "so just sometimes it all comes out in one game, and it was nice to see that out of our lineup."
Realmuto hit .299 with eight homers and 62 RBIs in 97 games at Double-A Jacksonville in 2014.
Justin Bour, who had three hits and scored four times in the nightcap, batted .306 with 18 homers and 72 RBIs in 103 games at Triple-A New Orleans this season.
"It's exciting for me to see Bour and J.T. and guys like that, that I got to play with in the minor league level, succeed," said Andrew Heaney, who started the second game and gave up four runs in four innings.
Things did not go as well in the first game Friday for Miami. After an impressive second half of 2014, Marlins right-hander Jarred Cosart will head into the offseason with an eight-walk performance he called "embarrassing."
"I've had too much good the last couple weeks to let this one ruin the season, but it's definitely going to eat at me for a while," Cosart said. "I didn't have it out there. I couldn't find the plate. And that's pretty much it."
Cosart allowed a homer to the second batter he faced, and then issued all those free passes.
"You walk eight guys in a major league game, I'm surprised it wasn't 12-nothing," Cosart said.
He had made eight consecutive quality starts and carried a 2.29 ERA from his first nine appearances with the Marlins since arriving in a trade from the Houston Astros.
But Cosart's record with Miami dropped to 4-4 — he's 13-11 overall this season — after he allowed three runs, two earned, and four hits in five innings.
He gave up Anthony Rendon's 21st homer of the year in the first inning.
"Let's chalk it up to a bad day for him," Redmond said. "Just wasn't his day. He's been really good for us."
Fister (16-6), meanwhile, recorded his second career shutout.
The only player who got a hit off Fister was Donovan Solano, with a pair of harmless singles in the first and fourth innings, and a triple with two outs in the ninth. The next batter, Casey McGehee, lined out to diving second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera to end that game.
At 77-83 heading into the weekend, the Marlins could finish anywhere from second to fourth in the NL East, but they know they won't finish last.
Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg (13-11, 3.23 ERA) faces Marlins RHP Nathan Eovaldi (6-13, 4.44 ERA) on Saturday.
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