Nats held down by Marlins in 5-2 loss

July 28, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Nationals showed real improvement. It wasn’t nearly enough.

Despite having baserunners in every inning but the eighth, and getting seven hits and seven walks, the Washington Nationals were held harmless by the Florida Marlins in a 5-2 loss Thursday.

“It was just kind of a strange day. We had opportunities, a couple mishaps,” Nationals Manager Davey Johnson said. “Things aren’t just going our way. That’s all I can tell you.”  

Five Marlins relievers held the Washington Nationals to one run over the final 5 1/3 innings and Florida completed a three-game sweep.

The Nationals, who stranded 11 runners, have lost five straight and 8 of 11.

“We’re moving in the right direction, and sorry to the people out there that are tired of hearing it, but it’s true, and something good is about to come,” Ian Desmond said.

John Lannan (7-7) gave up four runs on five hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings for Washington.

“That’s not typical of John Lannan,” Johnson said of Lannan’s struggles with his control. “I thought he had good stuff — and he did. But he was just all over the place.”

Jayson Werth had a pair of RBI singles for the Nationals, who are 9-17 under manager Davey Johnson.

“The last couple nights, I think we just lost focus a little bit, and we need to get back on track,” Werth said.

The Nationals trailed 3-1 after Stanton led off the sixth inning against Lannan and homered to center on a 2-2 pitch.

Stanton’s homer was his 24th of the season and fourth in his last six games. He has eight home runs and 14 RBIs in 12 career games at Nationals Park since 2010.

“He does a good job. (The Nationals) ought to trade for him,” Marlins Manager Jack McKeon joked. “They’d have to give up the Lincoln Memorial.”

Later in the inning, Emilio Bonifacio singled in a run off Nationals reliever Sean Burnett. Bonifacio extended his hitting streak to 26 games, the second-longest in club history.

“The kid’s got confidence because he knows he’s going to play everyday,” McKeon said. “Before, he was in and out of the lineup. When I got (here), I said ‘You’re going to play every day. You’re my leadoff guy, and here’s what I want you to do.’ And he’s having fun doing it.

“He’s really a great kid, and he wants to learn. He loves to play, and he’s very unselfish. I think everybody on the club’s rooting for him.”

Brian Sanches (4-1), the second Marlins reliever, pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the win.

“We’re playing good baseball now,” McKeon said after the Marlins improved to 52-53. “That’s the closest we’ve been in a long time. But that’s our goal, get to .500 and then hopefully we’ll roll.”

Florida pulled rookie left-hander Brad Hand, who was recalled from Double-A Jacksonville for Thursday’s start, after 3 2/3 innings. He allowed one run on three hits, but walked six batters, one intentionally.

The Marlins took a 1-0 lead when Bonifacio led off the third inning with a walk and later scored on Logan Morrison’s fielder’s choice. It was Morrison’s 26th RBI this month.

The Nationals tied it in their half of the third. With one out, Danny Espinosa walked, Ryan Zimmerman singled, and Michael Morse walked to load the bases. On a 3-0 pitch, Werth hit a blooper down the right field line that fell just fair beyond the reach of three Marlins, scoring Espinosa.

Zimmerman finished with four hits, matching his career high, and is 13 for 27 in his last six games.

The Marlins went ahead 2-1 in the fourth when Hand laid down a sacrifice bunt with Brett Hayes on first and Mike Cameron on third. Cameron ran down the third-base line part way on contact, scoring when Lannan fielded the bunt and threw to first without looking Cameron back.

“I should’ve looked, but when I have two guys screaming at me, ‘Throw one,’ I’m going to throw it to first,” Lannan said.

Notes: Washington RHP Chien-Ming Wang will start Friday against the Mets, his first major league start since July 4, 2009. Wang, who has been recovering from his 2009 shoulder surgery, will be activated from the disabled list Friday. His career record is 55-26 with a 4.16 ERA in 109 games. Washington manager Davey Johnson said Wang will be limited to 80-90 pitches. ... Johnson said fifth starter Tom Gorzelanny, whose regular turn would have been Friday, is now the probable starter for Monday’s game against the Braves. ... Florida 1B Gaby Sanchez sat for the third straight game with a tight left hamstring. ... To make room on the roster for Hand, Florida optioned RHP Jose Ceda to Triple-A New Orleans. ... In 2002, Luis Castillo set the Marlins record with a 35-game hitting streak. ... Jonny Gomes batted sixth and played left field in his first action for the Nationals. He went 0 for 3 and was hit by a pitch.

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