Unbeaten Strasburg, Nats down Marlins in doubleheader opener

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WASHINGTON (AP) Stephen Strasburg remained undefeated and struck out seven over six innings in his first start since signing a long-term contract and the Washington Nationals defeated the Miami Marlins 6-4 in the opener of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader.

Strasburg (6-0) allowed three runs and five hits for his second victory over the Marlins this season. The right-hander agreed to a seven-year, $175 million deal Tuesday.

Washington has won three in a row, including two straight to open the four-game series with Miami.

Jayson Werth‘s RBI single capped a three-run first inning for Washington off Justin Nicolino (2-1). Wilson Ramos hit a solo home run in the sixth as five Nationals drove in at least one run.

Christian Yelich homered and drove in two runs for Miami, which has lost five of seven.

Jonathan Papelbon, one of three relievers backing up Strasburg, pitched the ninth for his 11th save.

Though not sharp, Strasburg never surrendered the early lead despite the Marlins’ peskiness. He matched his season-high with three walks and allowed at least one base runner in every inning.

Nicolino allowed four runs on five hits with five walks – including the first three batters faced – in 4 2/3 innings.

Staked to a 1-0 lead on Yelich’s homer, Nicolino’s inability to find the strike zone cost him immediately.

After he walked Bryce Harper to load the bases, sacrifice flies by Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman drove in runs. Harper stole third base and scored on Werth’s single for a 3-1 lead.

Miami scored single runs in the fifth and sixth only for Washington to counter in the bottom of both innings as rain fell, eventually turning the infield muddy.

Yelich homered center field wall in the first inning and then peppered the left field wall for an RBI double in the fifth.

Michael Taylor reached base four times with a double, single and two walks for the Nationals. He also scored twice and stole a base.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: Washington rested outfielder Ben Revere for the opening game with Taylor starting in center. … Outfielder Matt den Dekker was added from Triple-A Syracuse as the 26th man for the doubleheader. He pinch-hit in the eighth, reached on an error and scored on Taylor’s double.

UP NEXT

Miami RHP Kendry Flores was scheduled to make his 2016 debut in the second game of the doubleheader. Flores, called up Saturday from Triple-A New Orleans as the Marlins’ 26th player, posted a 4.97 ERA in seven games with Miami in 2015. RHP Tanner Roark (2-2, 2.03) starts for Washington.

Cubs acquire Martín Maldonado from the Royals

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Last night Cubs catcher Willson Contreras was placed on the injured list with a strained muscle in his right foot. That injury inspired the Cubs to go out and get another catcher. They acquired Martín Maldonado in a trade with Kansas City in exchange for lefty Mike Montgomery, in a deal that was announced after the Cubs loss to the Reds.

Maldonado, 32, was a Gold Glove winner in 2017 with the Angels. At the moment he’s hitting .227 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 74 games. Obviously, though, defense is his calling card, as he’s a .220 career hitter with 57 homers and 210 RBIs in 686 games.

Montgomery, 30, is 1-2 with a 5.67 ERA in 20 relief appearances for the Cubs this year. He’s heading back to where his pro career began. He was drafted by Kanas City in 2008, though he was traded away in the James Shields/Wade David/Wil Myers deal in 2012. He made his big league debut for Seattle in 2015. Dayton Moore said last night that the Royals plan to use Montgomery in the rotation as a replacement for Homer Bailey, who was dealt to Oakland on Sunday.