Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, left, follows through on a double as Washington Nationals catcher Sandy Leon, right, looks on during the first inning.
Lynne Sladky/ASSOCIATED PRESS
MIAMI (AP) — Things are going so badly for the Miami Marlins they brought in their closer trailing by seven runs in the ninth inning Monday.
He needed some work.
Starter Brad Hand gave up five runs in three innings and Miami endured its eighth consecutive defeat, losing to the Washington Nationals 9-2.
Ending the skid won’t be easy Tuesday, when the Marlins face Stephen Strasburg. He beat them last week and began this week leading the NL in strikeouts.
"The only way we can get out of this thing is somebody needs to step up, go out there and say, `It’s over, I’m done with it,’" manager Mike Redmond said. "We either need a big pitching performance or a big hit or a big play to spark us to get us going. Those guys understand that, and hopefully it will come Tuesday."
The Marlins fell to 0-4 against the Nationals and have been outscored by them 31-10.
Hand (0-1) fell to 1-11 in his career as a starter. He allowed five extra-base hits.
"It’s very frustrating," Hand said. "We all want to win in this clubhouse. We tried to go out there and turn it around tonight, but just made too many mistakes, and it’s really frustrating."
Closer Steve Cishek, pitching for only the second time since the opening series of the season, threw a scoreless ninth and received derisive cheers when the inning ended. Garrett Jones hit his second homer for Miami, and Giancarlo Stanton had two hits.
Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann bounced back from the shortest start of his career to pitch seven innings. Bryce Harper had two doubles and an RBI triple for three of the Nationals’ 11 extra-base hits.
Harper came out of the game as a precaution in seventh inning after he slipped running the bases. He said he has been nursing a sore thigh muscle.
"It has been tight since Friday, but nothing too serious," Harper said. "I’m ready to go Tuesday."
The postgame scene in the Washington clubhouse included a smoke machine, strobe lights and blaring music, which created an atmosphere akin to a South Beach nightclub. The win came after the Nationals were swept in a three-game series at Atlanta.
"That was a tough weekend, but they responded," manager Matt Williams said. "They came out today and played hard."
Catcher Sandy Leon hit his first career home run, while Tyler Moore also homered and had an RBI single. Anthony Rendon drove in three runs with a double and a triple, and Danny Espinosa doubled and tripled.
"It was a fun night," Moore said in the smoke-filled clubhouse. "We needed that after three tough losses in a row. We’re just trying to turn the page. We swung the bats good, and Jordan pitched great."
Zimmermann (1-0) became the first Washington starter to pitch seven innings this season. After lasting only 1 2-3 innings when he gave up five runs against Miami last week, he lowered his ERA from 8.10 to 5.27, allowing two runs while striking out seven.
"It was a lot better today," he said. "I was getting ahead with the fastball. When I’m able to get ahead, I can throw everything else where I want and when I want. When I fall behind, that’s when I run into trouble."
The right-hander tied the Nationals record of 44 career victories set by Livan Hernandez. Zimmermann also had two of the Nationals’ season-high 16 hits.
"A lot of guys on our team are swinging it well," Harper said. "It’s contagious. Everybody is hitting it. It goes one through eight — even one through nine."
NOTES: Marlins OF Marcell Ozuna was held out of the starting lineup after bruising his foot when he fouled a ball off it Sunday. … INF Rafael Furcal (hamstring) began a rehabilitation assignment Monday that is expected to last three weeks, meaning he won’t join the Marlins until early May. … Jones is a fan of pro wrestling, and his new theme song when he bats is a tune used by The Ultimate Warrior, who died last week. … Nationals RHP Doug Fister (back muscle) threw 50 pitches in a bullpen session and said he felt good afterward. The next step for him is a simulated game. … Nationals OF Nate McLouth missed his second start in a row because of a sore left knee. … With a left-hander pitching for Miami, 1B Adam LaRoche sat out for the first time this season.