Juan Soto clubbed one of three Nationals homers, and Josiah Gray earned his first major league victory, leading Washington to a 7-5 win over the host Miami Marlins on Wednesday night.
Miami threatened to win the game in the bottom of the ninth as Nick Fortes (two-run blast) and Sandy Leon (solo shot) each homered off reliever Ryne Harper.
But Tanner Rainey then got the last two outs for the second save of his career.
Yadiel Hernandez and Luis Garcia also homered for the Nationals (63-89) in a battle between the bottom two teams in the NL East.
Washington won two of three games in its series with Miami (64-88). However, the Marlins still lead the Nationals by one game in their effort to stay out of the cellar.
Soto, who has 27 homers and 90 RBIs, went 3-for-3 with a double, a single, a walk and his 387-foot dinger.
Gray, a 23-year-old rookie, struck out eight batters in six innings, allowing six hits, one walk and two runs. It was his 12th major-league appearance, 11 of which have been starts. And, if not for a strong throw from Marlins right fielder Jesus Sanchez, Gray would have had a line-drive single in the sixth inning.
Marlins starter Elieser Hernandez (1-3) took the loss. He struck out a season-high seven batters in four innings. But he also allowed seven hits, two walks and a season-high three homers.
Elieser lost the Hernandez-vs.-Hernandez battle in the second as Yadiel hammered a high slider for a solo homer.
Soto also drove a high slider, this time for a two-run shot, giving the Nationals a 3-0 lead in the third. Soto hit the first pitch in that at-bat.
In the fourth, Garcia also ambushed Hernandez, hitting a first-pitch fastball for his homer, stretching Washington’s lead to 4-0.
With two outs and none on in the bottom of the fourth, the Marlins mounted their first successful rally of the night as Lewis Brinson doubled and Lewin Diaz followed with an RBI single.
Miami cut its deficit to 4-2 in the sixth. Bryan De La Cruz tripled under the glove of a charging Soto in right field. Sanchez then stroked an RBI single.
In an unusual play in the sixth inning, Nationals first baseman Josh Bell caught Jazz Chisholm’s pop fly. But because the ball hit the roof, it was ruled no catch and just a foul ball.
Washington took a 7-2 lead in the seventh as Soto lined an RBI single, Bell hit a sacrifice fly, and Hernandez added a run-scoring double.
Washington then withstood Miami’s power show in the ninth to earn the win.