Miami (7-18) at Washington (9-19)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Washington, DC
Temp: 89° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Thu May 4, 2006
Preview | Box Score | Recap

With new ownership and plans to break ground this week on a new $611 million stadium, things are looking up for the Washington Nationals. They just need to find a way to break their old losing habits.

Washington (9-19) looks for a split of its two-game series with the Florida Marlins when the teams meet Thursday at RFK Stadium.

On Wednesday, the Nationals were sold by Major League Baseball to a group led by Maryland real estate developer Theodore Lerner and former Atlanta Braves executive Stan Kasten.

Baseball bought the then-Montreal Expos in 2002 for $120 million, and eight groups entered the bidding process more than a year ago. The team was sold for $450 million.

“I hope the plans are to have a very competitive ballclub here,” Nationals second baseman Jose Vidro said. “I’m happy because we finally feel we are on the same level.”

Washington should aim higher than the shaky pitching and poor clutch hitting that marred Wednesday’s 6-5 loss in the series.

The two teams’ 11 pitchers combined for 13 walks, three wild pitches and two hit batsmen while a combined total of 23 runners were left on base.

Florida (7-18) snapped a five-game losing streak when rookie Hanley Ramirez singled to center field with two outs in the top of the ninth, scoring Dan Uggla for the game-winning run, the Marlins’ first since April 26 when they beat the Chicago Cubs.

Wednesday’s win followed Florida’s 0-5 homestand and a stretch of eight losses in nine games.

“It’s always one or two innings that seem to get us,” first-year Florida manager Joe Girardi said before Wednesday’s win. “You have to learn to bend a little but not break.”

The Marlins are expected to send left-hander Josh Johnson (1-2, 3.86 ERA) to the mound for Thursday’s start against Nationals’ right-hander Livan Hernandez (1-3, 5.49).

Johnson has walked nine and struck out 10 through 11 2-3 innings though he’s yet to go longer than three innings in a game this season.

Hernandez is seeking his first win in his seventh start since beating Houston on April 8. He is 10-5 in 20 starts with a 2.66 career ERA against Florida.

The right-hander had his best start of the season on Saturday against St. Louis, but didn’t get a decision after allowing one unearned run and three hits with four walks and four strikeouts in a 2-1 loss.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Johnson SD vs. L. Hernandez Mil
12-7 Record 13-13
3.10 ERA 4.83
133 K 128
68 BB 78
1.30 WHIP 1.50