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Nats beat Marlins in 11 innings

April 07, 2011

MIAMI (AP) — Adam LaRoche snapped a slump with a two-run homer in the 11th inning Thursday, and the Washington Nationals salvaged the final game of their series at Florida, 5-3.

LaRoche was 3 for 23 before he hit his first homer of the year off Edward Mujica (1-1). That ended a streak of 12 2/3 scoreless innings for Florida’s bullpen in the series.

The Marlins gave up two unearned runs, struck out 12 times and went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

Jayson Werth hit his first home run since signing a $126 million, seven-year contract to join the Nationals.

Todd Coffey (1-0), who was ejected from Wednesday’s game for arguing about ball-strike calls, pitched a perfect 10th. Sean Burnett, extending a streak of 21 consecutive shutout innings since Aug. 26, pitched the 11th for his second save in as many chances.

Ryan Zimmerman reached on an infield single with one out in the 11th, and LaRoche followed with a homer. That gave the Nationals the win even though they went only 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position. They’re are batting .140 in those situations and have scored 19 runs in six games.

Two Florida errors led to a pair of unearned runs for Washington. The Marlins said improving their perennially shaky defense was a priority this season, but they’ve allowed eight unearned runs in six games.

The misplays forced ace Josh Johnson to throw extra pitches, and he departed after six innings. Johnson gave up three runs, one earned.

He retired the first 10 batters before giving up a bizarre hit: Werth slid headfirst into third base with a home run. The hit landed on top of the right-field wall, and Werth was unaware it had been ruled a homer until he reached third.

The call stood after a replay review, the second in as many nights for the umpire crew. A similar drive by Florida’s John Buck was ruled a triple rather than a homer Wednesday, and that call also was upheld.

The Marlins’ first two batters scored before John Lannan settled down. He allowed three runs in five-plus innings.

Announced attendance was 10,696, but the actual crowd totaled less than 5,000, creating an atmosphere so subdued that plate umpire Jeff Nelson could be heard from the skybox level during an angry exchange in the fifth inning.

“That’s enough,” Nelson shouted, pointing toward the Washington dugout. “That’s enough.”

The Nationals groused about ball-strike calls after Wednesday’s loss.

Bad throws by shortstop Hanley Ramirez and catcher Buck hurt Florida. Wilson Ramos reached in the fifth on Ramirez’s third error this season. A single sent Ramos to third, and he came home on Danny Espinosa’s groundout.

The Nationals scored another unearned run an inning later to take a 3-2 lead. Ian Desmond led off with a single, stole second and continued to third on a wild throw by Buck. Zimmerman followed with an RBI single.

Washington’s defense was bad too. After a single by Buck to lead off the sixth, Wes Helms’ drive near the 434-foot sign in center field was misplayed by Rick Ankiel, and the ball glanced off his glove for a double. Buck scored on Emilio Bonifacio’s groundout to make it 3-all.

NOTES: RF Mike Stanton, who missed his fifth consecutive start with a strained left hamstring, struck out pinch hitting in the ninth. The Marlins are hoping he’ll rejoin the lineup sometime this weekend at Houston. ... Nationals LF Michael Morse, off to a 2-for-18 start, was held out of the lineup and grounded out as a pinch hitter.

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