Marlins fail to deliver in 3-2 loss to Nationals

Defeat No. 97 in this wretched season for the Miami Marlins was

quite similar to many that preceded it.

A tight game that might have gone Miami’s way with one or two

hits at the right time instead turned out to be a 3-2 loss to the

Washington Nationals on Thursday night.

Bryce Harper hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and the

Marlins spent the rest of the night playing catch up.

Miami went 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position and stranded

10. Typically, the game ended with the potential tying run at

second base.

”I think that’s good we’re getting guys in scoring position,

but at the same time we’ve got to do a better job of driving those

guys in,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. ”We seem to have two

or three, four opportunities a night and can’t capitalize on them

and really that ends up being the difference.”

Ed Lucas had three hits for the Marlins, who must go 7-2 in

their last nine games to avoid 100 losses.

”The good news is that those guys are getting in scoring

position,” Redmond said. ”That two-out hit has been elusive for

us. We’ve gotten a few of them of them, but had we gotten a few

more we’d probably be in a different situation right now.”

At least the Marlins haven’t quit, although no one could blame

them at this juncture.

”Everybody’s mindset is good, everybody comes to the ballpark

and prepares,” catcher Koyle Hill said. ”I think everybody’s been

happy with the approach. We keep grinding away.”

Despite winning 11 of 13 in a belated run, the Nationals trail

Cincinnati by five games for the final NL wild-card slot with nine

games remaining. Washington needed every bit of mettle it could

muster to win this one.

Gio Gonzalez (11-7) allowed two runs over six innings and Drew

Storen and Tyler Clippard each worked a harrowing scoreless inning

before Rafael Soriano got three outs, stranding two runners in

earning his 42nd save.

”I mean, everybody was out there. Gave me a heart attack. Check

my pulse,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. ”Gio took it

right to the edge, Storen to the edge, Clip and Sori topped it off.

But it’s nice to come out on top.”

Denard Span went 0 for 4 for Washington, ending his hitting

streak at 29 games – one short of the Nationals record. He was

bidding to become the 27th player to have a 30-game hitting streak

since Joe DiMaggio had his 56-game run in 1941.

Span received a standing ovation from many in the crowd of

25,945 after he struck out in the seventh, his final at-bat.

Although the streak is done, Span expressed no regret.

”It was unbelievable,” he said. ”It was like a

roller-coaster, especially these last 10 days or so. It was a lot

of fun. It gave me added motivation, to come to the field to try to

extend it.”

Harper’s 20th homer of the season came off Henderson Alvarez

(4-5) and turned out to be all the offense the Nationals needed to

improve to 12-4 against Miami, including 7-0 at home.

Miami went up 1-0 when Donovan Solano opened the game with a

double and Lucas followed with an RBI single.

In the bottom half, Ryan Zimmerman hit the first of his three

singles and Jayson Werth walked before Harper drove a hanging

curveball over the wall in center field. It was his first home run

since Aug. 29.

The Marlins loaded the bases with two outs in the third before

Placido Polanco flied out.

Successive doubles by Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Ruggiano got

Miami within 3-2 in the sixth, but Gonzalez nabbed Ruggiano trying

to steal third, short-circuiting the uprising.

NOTES: Jordan Zimmermann seeks his 19th win for Washington on

Friday night. Miami starter Jacob Turner (3-7) will attempt to

break a six-game losing streak. … The Nationals acquired minor

league pitcher Matthew Spann as the player to be named in the Aug.

23 trade that sent OF David DeJesus to Tampa Bay. Spann is 14-10

with a 3.03 ERA in four pro seasons. … Johnson expects RHP

Stephen Strasburg to start Saturday. Strasburg felt forearm

tightness while throwing Wednesday and was scratched from his

scheduled start Thursday. … Both teams received a warning from

home plate umpire Bill Welke after Alvarez hit Ian Desmond with a

3-0 pitch in the first inning. Johnson said Alvarez should have

been ejected. … The Nationals are 28-11 since Aug. 8.