Game in a nutshell: What surely everyone assumed would be a pitchers' duel between Jordan Zimmermann and Mark Buehrle instead turned into one of the wildest and most entertaining ballgames of the season. Zimmermann lasted only five innings, Buehrle only went six. Three errors by the Nationals' middle infield left them trailing 6-4 in the eighth, but then the big bats busted out against the Miami bullpen. Steve Lombardozzi and Tyler Moore delivered RBI singles. Danny Espinosa then launched a three-run homer to left to put the Nats ahead for the first time all night. Bryce Harper immediately followed with a moonshot to right field, completing a six-run rally, all of the runs scoring with two outs. Tyler Clippard then finished this one off, giving the Nationals one of their most-inspired victories of the season. And since the Braves lost to Houston, the lead in the NL East is back up to three games.
Hitting highlight: This was going to be renamed the "Adam LaRoche Highlight" after the first baseman slugged two more home runs (giving him four in three days) but then Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper stole the show in the bottom of the eighth. Espinosa, who has had a miserable couple of weeks at the plate, made everyone forget about that when he crushed a pitch from left-hander Mike Dunn over the left-field bullpen for the three-run homer that gave the Nationals the lead for good. The crowd of 33,449 serenaded Espinosa til he gave them a curtain call, and they barely had time to catch their breaths before Harper destroyed a Dunn fastball to right field, nearly reaching the third deck. The Nats have produced some big home runs this season, but those back-to-back shots might have been the biggest of them all.
Pitching lowlight: We should probably rename this category "Pitching AND defensive lowlight" because the two went hand-in-hand tonight. Zimmermann slogged through his worst start of the season, but he wasn't helped at all by his defense. Espinosa and Lombardozzi combined for three errors, and Jayson Werth and Harper each took suspect routes on line drives hit at them in the outfield. In the end, Zimmermann couldn't overcome those mistakes and failed to go at least six innings for the first time in 22 starts this season. If you're wondering about his shoulder inflammation -- which bumped this start back a day -- his velocity looked fine, consistently in the 94-95 mph range. That doesn't necessarily guarantee he's not injured, but it's usually the first sign of a problem.
Key stat: The Marlins scored more runs in this game than in any of their previous 18 games.
Up next: The series concludes at 1:35 p.m. Sunday when Stephen Strasburg squares off with Ricky Nolasco.
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez became the first former Nationals player (2005-present) to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday. He was inducted in his first year of eligibility, marking the 52nd first-ballot hall of famer in history.
Rodriguez, who was the first free agent signed by current Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, played the final two seasons of his career with Washington in 2010-11. During his time in D.C. he hit .254 six homers and 68 RBI. Pudge's greatest contribution to the Nationals came from his leadership and work ethic. He guided Stephen Strasburg through his rookie season and also helped develop Wilson Ramos so he could pass the torch to him.
During his 21-year career, Pudge made 14 all-star teams, won 13 gold gloves, won seven silver slugger awards, led his league in caught-steeling percentage nine times, and was named American League MVP in 1999 with the Texas Rangers. He became a World Series champion in 2003 with the Florida Marlins. Pudge's 13 gold gloves are the most ever by a catcher, and his 2,844 career hits are the most ever by a player who appeared in 50 percent or more of their career games as a catcher.
In addition to Rodriguez, former Montreal Expos great Tim Raines was inducted to the Hall of Fame. Raines is the franchise leader (Expos/Nationals) in walks (793), runs (947), stolen bases (635) and triples (82). Raines was an all-star seven times and he won a silver slugger in 1986 with the Expos. He is the only player in MLB history with at least 100 triples, 150 homers and 600 RBI in a career, and the only player to steal at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons.
Related: Bryce Harper wants Nationals to spend money on players, not team store
Bryce Harper isn't one to keep his opinions to himself. The Nationals slugger is outspoken about what he wants, whether that's to "Make Baseball Fun Again" or to make at least $400 million on his next contract.
On Wednesday, he gave his take on how the Nats should be investing their money this summer. Here's Harper responding to a tweet from ESPN's Jim Bowden.
Harper's message: Players over everything else. Sorry, gift shop.
It's plain to see where the 2015 NL MVP is going with this. Obviously, he wants as much talent around him as possible for a chance to win the World Series.
Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star catcher, and Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer, could be significant additions to Washington's roster.
Harper is set to become a free agent in 2018, at which point an organization like the New York Yankees will be prepared to offer him both a massive salary and a massive investment in the players around him.
The slugger probably hopes his current team will try to surround him with winning pieces in an effort to keep him. But if a report about the Nationals' reaction to his contract demands proves accurate, they may have another agenda.
There's Harper drama around the Nationals? Just a regular Wednesday here in Washington.
MORE NATIONALS: Nationals avoid arbitration with Harper, three others