Marlins succumb late, drop series finale to Nationals

MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Marlins missed a chance for a series sweep Sunday and head into the All-Star break 18 games out of first place.

So there’s still room for improvement.

Closer Steve Cishek allowed three runs in the 10th inning, and Miami lost to the Washington Nationals 5-2.

The defeat sent the Marlins into the All-Star break at 35-58, worst in the NL.

But after a 13-41 start, they’ve gone 22-17.

“From the way we started those first couple of months, I’m very pleased with the way these guys have continued to grind it out through a lot of adversity and some tough losses,” manager Mike Redmond said.

“By no means are we satisfied with where we’re at. We know we can get better. We’ll go out there in the second half and hopefully have a great second half and finish strong.”

Cishek (3-5) gave up three hits in the 10th to end his streak of 16 1-3 consecutive scoreless innings, the longest such active streak in the major leagues.

“I flipped in a couple of lazy sliders that killed me,” he said. “I really wanted to finish on a strong note for the first half. Sweeping the Nationals would have been great.”

Miami also missed a chance for its first four-game winning streak this season, but Cishek saw a bright side.

“It been incredible how well we’ve played the last two months,” he said. “It was looking kind of dismal at first, but now all of a sudden it’s like a resurgence. The team’s been great and we’ve been battling every game.”

Denard Span was dropped from the top spot in the Washington order for the first time this season, and he responded with three hits in the No. 7 position. He snapped a 1-for-20 slump with a two-out RBI double in the second inning, singled in the fourth and hit a tiebreaking two-out RBI double in the 10th.

The Nationals salvaged the series finale at Miami despite going 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position, and hit .087 (4 for 46) in those situations during their trip. They had four hits without scoring in the fourth inning, when right fielder Giancarlo Stanton threw out two base runners.

With the score 2-all, Werth hit a one-out single in the 10th off Cishek, and Span hit a double that landed on the warning track in center field to give the Nationals the lead. Wilson Ramos added an RBI single, and pinch-hitter Chad Tracy doubled home another run.

Craig Stammen (5-4) pitched a perfect ninth. Rafael Soriano followed with a scoreless 10th for his 25th save.

Miami snapped the Nationals’ franchise-record streak of hitting a home run in 86 consecutive series. Derek Dietrich hit a two-run homer for the Marlins, his ninth, but they squandered several scoring chances.

A base running blunder by Placido Polanco drew jeers from the crowd of 19,766 when it ended a Miami scoring threat in the third inning. He was at first base and Jeff Mathis was at second when Stanton hit a two-out single. Mathis stopped at third but Polanco kept running, giving the Nationals an easy putout.

In the second inning, a line drive by Dietrich along the right-field line was initially ruled fair by first-base umpire Mike Estabrook, putting runners at second and third with none out. But plate umpire Alan Porter reversed the call, Dietrich struck out and the Marlins didn’t score. TV replays were inconclusive.

Stanton’s defense kept Miami in the game in the fourth. His first assist came when he threw a one-hop strike from his knees to second base.

“I think I’ve only tried that like two or three times,” Stanton said. “I was happy to get it there for the out.”

The throw came after he took a tumble trying to catch a fly ball by Werth, who was out trying to stretch the hit into a double.

Singles by Ian Desmond and Span put runners at first and second, and with two out Taylor Jordan also singled. Stanton charged the ball and threw, and a sliding Desmond was out trying to score.

Notes: Miami LHP Duane Below was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans. RHP Chad Qualls will be placed on the paternity list. … Werth fouled a ball off the top of his left foot and left the game in the 10th. He was limping after the game and said he was unsure whether he might miss any playing time when the season resumes. … Miami SS Adeiny Hechavarria had two hits and is batting .412 (21 for 51) this month. … Marlins C Jeff Mathis has thrown out 13 of 18 runners on steal attempts.