Nationals-Marlins Preview

While the Washington Nationals said a recent argument between

manager Davey Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo was nothing

more than “business as usual,” there’s no denying that the team is

struggling.

Looking to avoid a season-high sixth straight loss, the

Nationals finish a two-game set with the Miami Marlins on Wednesday

night.

Before suffering a 9-0 defeat to Miami on Tuesday, Washington’s

front office tried to diffuse talk about a heated argument between

Johnson and Rizzo.

Johnson was heard shouting at Rizzo in the clubhouse Sunday

after the Nationals (77-51) were swept by Philadelphia.

“Davey and I talk after every game,” Rizzo said. “We talk about

the goods and the bads of each and every game, and this was just

probably I was a little too emotional. We’re both pretty

passionate, and I was a little frustrated. I probably could have

tabled it until the next morning, but I didn’t.”

Washington’s struggles may not be solved as easily as the spat.

The club has been outscored 26-6 during its skid, with the latest

loss coming with ace Stephen Strasburg on the mound.

Strasburg, who is facing a controversial shutdown before a

possible playoff berth, allowed a career-high seven runs – five

earned – and nine hits over five innings to take the loss

Tuesday.

Even the returns of Ian Desmond and Michael Morse couldn’t help

Washington. Both of those players went hitless and the Nationals

mustered five total hits off Florida starter Ricky Nolasco, who

earned the shutout while striking out six.

The Nationals, who still lead own a healthy lead atop the NL

East, are hitting .212 during their losing streak, which matches

their longest of the season. They haven’t dropped six in a row

since Aug. 23-28, 2011.

“We’ve played really good 90 percent of the year,” Johnson

said. “We’re in a rough spot here. That makes the metal hotter. The

tougher it gets, the stronger you get, so we’ll be fine.”

As Washington tries to snap its skid Wednesday, Miami (59-71)

will be looking to win three straight for the first time since July

4-6.

Justin Ruggiano homered and finished 4 for 4 Tuesday while

Giancarlo Stanton had three hits and drove in three runs.

The Marlins will try to finally push a run across against Ross

Detwiler (7-6, 3.25 ERA), who takes the mound Wednesday for the

Nationals.

Detwiler hasn’t allowed a run in 12 career innings against

Miami, including a six-inning start April 20. He limited the

Marlins to three hits and struck out seven in that outing while

earning a 2-0 victory.

The left-hander has dropped two of his last three starts

overall. He allowed two runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings of a

5-1 loss to Atlanta last Wednesday.

Miami counters with Jacob Turner (0-1, 4.50), who was modestly

effective in a losing cause in his first start with the Marlins

last Wednesday, allowing three runs and four hits over six innings

of a 3-2 defeat at Arizona.

“He was relaxed on the mound, very nice and loose,” manager

Ozzie Guillen said of Turner, whom the Marlins acquired in the

trade that sent Anibal Sanchez to Detroit. “He was throwing a lot

of strikes. He made one bad pitch but I like what I see.”

The Marlins are 6-2 at home against the Nationals this year.