Marlins drop rain-delayed contest to surging Nationals

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ian Desmond had three hits, including the go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning, and the Washington Nationals kept pace on the fringes of the playoff race Wednesday night with a rain-delayed 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins.

Desmond also scored a run and stole a base, and Jayson Werth homered to straightaway center field for the Nationals, who have won seven of eight as they hit a soft portion of the schedule. They remain seven games behind Cincinnati, which beat St. Louis 10-0, for the NL’s second wild-card berth.

Drew Storen (4-2), the fourth of six Nationals pitchers, worked out of a seventh-inning jam and got the win on a night when starter Stephen Strasburg was done after two innings because of a 72-minute rain delay. Strasburg had promising stuff: He got his six outs on 22 pitches with no hits allowed.

Tyler Clippard worked the eighth, and Rafael Soriano the ninth for his 35th save.

The Nationals broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh off Mike Dunn (3-4). Denard Span walked to lead off the inning, then advanced to second when Dunn bounced a pickoff attempt for a throwing error. Werth was intentionally walked with two outs, and Desmond scored Span with a single to left.

The Marlins have lost seven of eight, a skid that manager Mike Redmond tried to halt by switching around his lineup. He batted rookie Christian Yelich third for the first time, moving Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison down one notch each to fourth and fifth. It was the first time Stanton had batted cleanup this season.

Stanton hit a solo homer, Yelich drew a pair of walks, and Morrision had a single, but the Marlins couldn’t string together their hits. They went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

It was a dog days game for both teams — at least it felt that way when counting up all the little mistakes.

Washington’s Anthony Rendon made a baserunning gaffe on a ground ball and was thrown out at third, and Bryce Harper bobbled a base hit for an error that allowed the batter to get to second. Miami’s Morrison got caught in a rundown between third and home, Dunn had his throwing error, and the Marlins couldn’t do anything after getting men on first and second with none out in the seventh against vulnerable-looking reliever Storen.

Notes: How inept are the Marlins at the plate? They’ve drawn 31 walks in their last nine games — and none of those 31 runners have scored. … Washington is 5-0 vs. Miami at home this season. … Harper had an RBI double in the third inning to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, his first double-digit hitting streak in the majors. Span pushed his hitting streak to 11 games.