The slumping Nationals look to snap out of their funk and avoid their 13th loss in 14 games on Friday night when they open a three-game set against the NL East rival Marlins at Dolphin Stadium.
Washington (4-12) opened Nationals Park in grand fashion, beating Atlanta 3-2 on Ryan Zimmerman’s ninth-inning, walk-off home run on March 30. When they returned from a six-game road trip to play their first full series at the new stadium, however, the Nationals dropped three straight against the Marlins, getting outscored 24-14 and outhit 36-23 in the series.
“That was the story of the whole series—they outplayed us,” Nationals manager Manny Acta told the team’s official Web site after losing the finale 4-3 on April 10.
That sweep was part of an extended slump for Washington, which has lost 12 of 13 after opening 3-0. The Nationals were four outs away from getting a victory in their last outing, but an error by second baseman Ronnie Belliard led to a New York Mets run that tied the game 2-all in the eighth. The Nationals eventually fell 3-2 in 14 innings when Joel Hanrahan’s second wild pitch of the inning plated the game-winning run.
“If you are going to win 2-1 against the Mets, you have to play perfect baseball, and we didn’t,” said Acta, whose club totaled four runs and 18 hits while suffering their third three-game sweep of the year.
The Nationals will try to get back on track against the Marlins (9-6), who have used their success in Washington to propel them to six wins in their last nine games.
After taking its first two games in a series against Atlanta, however, Florida ran into John Smoltz on Thursday night, and managed only three hits while striking out 16 times overall in an 8-0 defeat.
“We still won the series,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez told the team’s official Web site. “We’ll come back tomorrow and start (a new series). We’ll try to win another one. If we can do that, we’ll have ourselves a pretty good year.”
The Marlins will hand the ball to Andrew Miller (0-2, 11.37 ERA), who has struggled in his first three starts with Florida after arriving in the trade that sent Miguel Cabrera to Detroit in the offseason. On Saturday, the 22-year-old left-hander gave up five runs in a season-high five innings in a 5-0 loss at Houston.
Miller was tagged for six runs and eight hits in 3 1-3 innings in his first career start against the Nationals on April 7, but the Marlins gave him plenty of support in their 10-7 win.
Washington starter Tim Redding (2-1, 2.25 ERA) held Florida to one earned run in four innings in that game, but gave up six additional unearned runs in taking the loss. He’s 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA in six career starts against the Marlins.
Redding bounced back from the loss against Florida by holding Atlanta to three runs in five innings in a 5-4 victory on Sunday.