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WASHINGTON (AP) — Giancarlo Stanton admitted he primarily got by on his athleticism during his first seven seasons in the pros. This year, the Marlins' slugger became a student of the game and he's teaching opposing pitchers one long ball lesson after another.
Stanton hit his career-high and major league-leading 38th home run of the season and drove in three runs as the Miami Marlins beat the Washington Nationals 7-3 on Tuesday night. He crushed a first-pitch fastball from A.J. Cole (1-2) deep into the center-field stands in the fifth for a 4-1 lead following singles by Miguel Rojas and Dee Gordon.
The right fielder has five home runs and nine RBI with a .368 (7 for 19) batting average five games into a seven-game road trip.
"You get used to it now," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "(Stanton) gets one a day for sure. Then we hope for another."
Derek Dietrich also homered and drove in three runs for the Marlins, who scored seven runs on six hits. Gordon's RBI double and Dietrich's two-run single put Miami up 7-1 in the seventh.
Bryce Harper went hitless but drove in two runs for Washington. Miami, 53-58 overall, leads the season series with the NL East leaders 6-5.
Stanton's hit 37 home runs in 2012 and 2014. He's topped that with 51 games remaining this season thanks to a healthy season and avoiding prolonged slumps.
"Being a better baseball player. Not being an athlete getting away with performance. Understanding baseball, understanding the grind of it," Stanton said of stepped up performance. "How to get through with singles, walks, do something to not get into that slump."
Slumps haven't been an issue against the Nationals. Stanton has 31 home runs all-time against Washington and his 18 at Nationals Park are the most by any visiting player.
New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is second to Stanton in homers this season with 35.
Vance Worley (2-2) thwarted the Nationals for the second time in nine days. He allowed one run on six hits over six innings after holding Washington to two hits during seven shutout frames in Miami's 7-0 win on July 31.
"Not too bad," a nonchalant Worley said of his recent work against Washington. "I knew they were going to be aggressive again. I think we handled the lineup fairly well. Defense again picked me up and the bats were alive for me again."
The Nationals left nine runners on base and hit into two double plays.
"Those double plays were haunting us tonight," manager Dusty Baker said. "We couldn't find any holes at the right time."
Worley and Cole faced off Wednesday in Miami with Cole surrendering five runs in five innings. He fared better in the rematch, but the result remained the same. Cole held Miami without a hit for 3 2-3 innings until Dietrich's homer. Stanton's came an inning later.
"The pitch I threw wasn't a bad pitch but the other two at bats I threw to (Stanton) the same spot and he kind of sits on it," said Cole, who allowed four runs in five innings with five strikeouts.
Harper knocked in runs with a third-inning grounder and sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Adrian Sanchez had three hits including an RBI single off Dustin McGowan during Washington's two-run seventh inning, but he was doubled off first base following Ichiro Suzuki's sliding catch in left field.
Marlins: Miami placed LHP Chris O'Grady on the 10-day DL with a strained right oblique and recalled RHP Javy Guerra from AAA-New Orleans. O'Grady (2-1, 5.47 ERA) started Monday's game, but was pulled in the second inning and had an MRI Tuesday.
Nationals: 2B Daniel Murphy was out of the starting lineup with a sore hip, Baker said, though the All-Star pinch-hit in the ninth. "He's been playing a lot and so we thought it'd be better for us to skip a day and we'll see how he is tomorrow," Baker said. . Baker is dealing with his own injury. He didn't leave the dugout for any pitching changes after his knee locked up on him. . Baker is hopeful INF Howie Kendrick (back stiffness) can return to the lineup Wednesday after being pulled in Monday's win.
ZIPPY FOR ZIMMERMAN
All-Star Ryan Zimmerman grounded into an inning-ending double play with two runners on in the fifth. The All-Star finished 0 for 4 and is batting .076 (2 for 27) since July 31.
Marlins: LHP Adam Conley (4-4, 5.10) is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in three starts against Washington.
Nationals: LHP Gio Gonzalez (9-5, 2.66) held the Marlins hitless through eight innings and finished with a one-hit shutout in Washington's 1-0 on July 31.
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