RENDON REJUVENATES NATS INTO 2ND PLACE!

By Greg Martin

Anthony Rendon hit his 20th homer as the Washington Nationals swept the last-place Miami Marlins with a 5-2 victory that sent Washington into second place in the NL East..

Selected for the NL All-Star team for the first time in his seventh season, Rendon is considering pulling out of next week’s festivities in Cleveland to nurse some bumps and bruises. At the plate and in the field, Rendon looked no worse for wear.

The Nats have won eight of nine and 13 of 16 to climb to a season-best four games over .500.

Kurt Suzuki homered in the second inning to extend the Montreal Expos/Nationals franchise record for consecutive games with a home run to 18. Rendon hit a solo shot in the fourth off Elieser Hernández (1-3) and drove in Gerardo Parra with a single in the fifth.

Parra, the newcomer responsible for sparking the Nationals’ dugout home run celebrations, drove in two insurance runs with a double in the sixth, creating some important rest for Washington’s most-used relievers.

“Obviously multi-run homers are better,” Suzuki said. “But having those big two-out RBIs like Parra had today, that’s the backbreaker. They walk Trea (Turner) to get to Parra with the lefty and he smokes a double. That’s the dagger right there.”

Reliever Javy Guerra escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, and 42-year-old Fernando Rodney rode the bullpen cart and hit 99 mph on the radar gun while earning his second save of the season.

“Sometimes you have to put something extra on the hitter and let him know,” Rodney said.

Washington right-hander Aníbal Sánchez (5-6) allowed one earned run and five hits in six innings. He hasn’t lost since returning from the injured list in late May.

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