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.

Cardinals sign Matt Wieters to one-year, $2 million deal

Matt Wieters
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Jon Heyman reports that the Cardinals and free agent catcher Matt Wieters have agreed on a one-year, $2 million deal. Wieters can earn an additional $1 million through incentives.

Wieters, 33, spent last season with the Cardinals as Yadier Molina‘s backup. In 67 games, the veteran hit .214/.268/.435 with 11 home runs and 27 RBI. While Wieters has left something to be desired offensively in recent years, he still plays solid defense behind the plate.

Wieters will once again serve as the backup to Molina. Catching prospect Andrew Knizner is expected to start the season at Triple-A Memphis.