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Marlins 7, Nationals 5

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WASHINGTON (AP)

Jack McKeon has always been an advocate of small ball. These days, he's enjoying the home run more and more.

In his latest incarnation as Florida Marlins manager, the 80-year-old McKeon saw his team hit three more homers on Wednesday night. The Marlins have hit 13 in their last five games and for just the second time in their history have multiple home runs in five straight game.

Florida desperately needed those homers because they nearly blew a six-run lead in the ninth before holding on for a 7-5 win over the Washington Nationals.

Javier Vazquez pitched seven strong innings, Emilio Bonifacio extended his hitting streak to 25 games and Mike Cameron hit two home runs as the Marlins recorded their fourth straight win.

Cameron, who was acquired earlier this month from Boston, hit home runs in the eighth and ninth to drive in three runs and give Florida a 7-1 lead before Steve Cishek allowed four runs in ninth.

''It was nice to see Cameron give us those add-on runs. They were helpful,'' McKeon said.

''I'm not going to complain because most of them were add-ons - which I'm all for. I'm a home run guy when they're add-ons. I don't want guys trying to hit home runs when we're four or five runs down.''

Vazquez (7-9) allowed one run and six hits in seven innings. It was the fifth time this season he's gone seven. He struck out four and walked three.

After allowing Michael Morse's two run single, Leo Nunez retired Laynce Nix on a fly to deep right to record his 28th save in 31 chances.

''I didn't quite get it all,'' Nix said. ''I was begging for it to go, but it was just a hair short.''

''I was kind of hoping it wasn't going to go out,'' McKeon said. ''Little scary at the end - rough inning.''

Bonifacio singled off Ryan Mattheus in the eighth, tying the second-longest hit streak in club history.

Cameron drove in three runs.

John Buck gave Florida a 3-0 lead when he hit a bases-loaded single in the fourth off Livan Hernandez (5-10).

Mike Stanton's homer - his seventh in 11 games in Washington and 23rd of the season - put the Marlins ahead 1-0 in the second.

Florida is 13-5 since July 5. That was the day they acquired Cameron, who'd fallen out of favor with the Red Sox. The two home runs were his second and third with the Marlins.

''It's not the idea to try and go up and try and hit homers,'' Cameron said. ''Those things will come.''

Washington lost its fourth straight, the team's longest skid in more than two months, and fell to 9-16 under Davey Johnson.

''I don't like to get beat,'' Johnson said. ''It's something I don't like. I like to sleep good at night, and I don't sleep as good when we lose. I know these guys are capable of a lot more and I know it's coming.''

Nix's long home run to right field - his 14th - leading off the bottom of the fourth cut the lead to 3-1.

Hanley Ramirez drove in Florida's fourth run in the fifth on an RBI double.

Jerry Hairston drove in Washington's second run in the ninth with a single, and Ryan Zimmerman's double - his third hit - scored the third run.

Hernandez was pulled after the first two batters of the fifth reached. It was the third time in his last seven starts he failed to make it through five innings.

NOTES: To make room for OF Jonny Gomes, acquired Tuesday from Cincinnati, the Nationals designated 43-year-old Matt Stairs for assignment. The all-time leader in pinch-hit home runs with 23, Stairs was just 6 for 39 as a pinch hitter this season without a homer. ... The Marlins will recall LHP Brad Hand from Double-A Jacksonville to start Thursday afternoon's game. Hand is 9-3 with a 3.81 ERA with Jacksonville, and 1-3 with a 2.77 ERA in five starts with Florida earlier this season. Florida optioned RHP Jose Ceda to Triple-A New Orleans... McKeon said he hoped that RHP Josh Johnson (right shoulder) would pitch again this season despite reports that he was being shut down. Johnson hasn't pitched since May 16. ... Morse hit in his 10th straight game. ... Bryce Harper, last year's No. 1 draft choice, hit his first home run since joining Washington's Double-A affiliate in Harrisburg earlier this month. ... Florida 1B Gaby Sanchez sat for the second straight game with a tight left hamstring.

Tagged: Laynce Nix, Nationals, Marlins, Mike Cameron, Matt Stairs, John Buck, Josh Johnson

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