Nationals 8, Marlins 4
Jason Marquis takes as much pride in his hitting as in his pitching. On Sunday, his bat helped him win his fifth game.
Marquis (5-1) had a horrible season in 2010. He missed most of it after right elbow surgery and won just two games. This year, he's not only won five of six decisions, but with his two hits, he's batting a cool .333.
''It can help you win ballgames. It can help make two-run games, four-run games and make it a little easier,'' Marquis said.
He helped stake himself to a 6-0 lead after one inning. The Nationals scored six off Javier Vazquez (2-4), and then hung on to win.
Ivan Rodriguez helped out with three RBIs - a two-run single in the first and a run-scoring double in the fifth.
By the time Marquis came to the plate, the Nationals were already up 4-0 and Vazquez was nearly out of the game. Marquis drove a ball into the left field corner, and after Jerry Hairston and Alex Cora scored, he tried to stretch the double into a triple, but was thrown out at third. Had he been safe, Vazquez would have been taken out of the game.
''It was a very rough first inning for Javy and that changed the whole strategy and it put us in a hole right away,'' Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez kept Vazquez in, and he pitched three scoreless innings, allowing just one more hit - a fourth-inning single by Marquis.
Vazquez (2-4), who left the team for three days after the death of his wife's relative in Puerto Rico, allowed six runs and six hits in four innings. The loss snapped Florida's eight-game winning streak in Washington.
A dejected Vazquez, his ERA ballooned to 7.55, can't figure out what's gone wrong for him this season.
''Believe me. I'm doing my best, but nothing's working. Nothing's working. Nothing. Absolutely nothing,'' Vazquez said.
Vazquez has 154 wins in his 14-season major league career, and Rodriguez is just as puzzled as his veteran right-hander is.
''We will talk to him. He cares. He's working, but whatever he's doing is not working.''
Marquis pitched 6 2-3 innings, allowing four runs - two unearned - walking one and striking out two.
After Craig Coghlan's RBI single in the seventh, Marquis was lifted for Todd Coffey. Emilio Bonifacio greeted him by ricocheting a ball off his right elbow, and he had to leave. X-rays were negative, and Coffey said he thinks he'll be fine once the swelling subsides.
With runners on first and second, Clippard retired Ramirez to end the seventh and pitched a scoreless eighth. Cole Kimball worked the ninth.
Besides Rodriguez's two-run single and Marquis' two-run double, Laynce Nix drove in a run with a single, and Hairston's fielder's choice drove in another run. The six-run inning tied a club high for the season.
''Getting runs early was big. That's been a bit of an issue for us,'' manager Jim Riggleman said.
Marquis' next start is scheduled for Friday in Baltimore, and Riggleman indicated he'll use the designated hitter instead of allowing his slugging pitcher to hit.
That's not Marquis' preference, but he'll watch someone else hit instead.
''It's not the most important part of the game, but when I'm standing in the box, it's the most important part,'' Marquis said.
NOTES: Nationals prospect Bryce Harper had his 18-game hitting streak end when he went 0 for 4 with a walk for Hagerstown. The No. 1 draft pick is hitting .381 in the Class A South Atlantic League. ... Hairston's error was the first by the Nationals in the last 10 games. They had tied a franchise high with nine straight errorless games. ... Florida 2B Omar Infante didn't start for the first time this season. He pinch-hit in the ninth inning. ... Infante and Gaby Sanchez are the only Marlins to play in every game. ... Washington SS Ian Desmond (sore left quad) did not play for the second straight game. ... Florida OF Logan Morrison ran his hitting streak to 13 games.