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Nationals complete sweep of Marlins

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- There were moving trucks outside of both clubhouses early Thursday evening as the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins ended a three-game, season-opening series.

Both teams are headed out of town -- the Marlins to New York to face the Mets, the Nationals to Cincinnati -- and the clubs are moving in opposite directions on the field and in the National League East standings.

Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-run single in the first inning, and Jayson Werth added a long three-run homer in the seventh, and the Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 6-1 on Thursday before 25,123 chilly fans at Nationals Park.

The Nationals (3-0), the defending National League East champs and a World Series favorite by several publications, swept their first series of the season for the first time since coming to Washington in 2005.

"It feels like today is the first real day of the season," said Werth, alluding to an off day on Tuesday following Opening Day. "I have put in a lot of work. I feel good. I had a good winter. The pitching was good. It is early; we have a long way to go."

Bryce Harper, hitting .500 through the first three games, drove in a run in the third as Washington outscored the Marlins 11-1 in the three-game series.

The young Marlins (0-3), who had eight hits but made two errors and stranded eight runners, head to New York to face the Mets after failing to score against the Washington bullpen in the series. They also made some physical and mental errors in the series to give the Nats extra outs.

"We just couldn't get that big hit with runners in scoring position," said rookie Miami manager Mike Redmond, still looking for his first win. "I am definitely happy with the way we swung the bats today."

The only run for the Marlins came on a solo homer by Justin Ruggiano in the second. He hit 13 homers in just 288 at bats last season.

Redmond added of Washington: "That is a good ballclub; that is a really good ballclub. We just weren't able to execute. That is definitely the difference. Things are going their way."

Jordan Zimmermann (1-0) pitched six innings for the Nationals and allowed eight hits, including the solo homer, while throwing 89 pitches.

"I was trying to hit a home run and match Gio," said Zimmermann, with a smile, referring to Gio Gonzalez, a fellow Nats starting pitcher who went deep Wednesday.

Zimmermann struck out twice at the plate, but he did his job on the mound, letting his defense make plays behind him.

"We have a lot more speed out there" on defense this year, he said. "It is definitely comforting."

He was replaced in the seventh by Henry Rodriguez, who retired the side in order. Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless eighth, and Craig Stammen capped the sweep by pitching the ninth.

Miami's Wade LeBlanc (0-1) allowed three runs (two earned) in five innings, taking the loss in his first career start against Washington. He gave up five hits and two walks while striking out five, but he was upset about falling behind in the first on the double by Zimmerman.

"I don't know how to explain it. It was similar to my last start in spring training," LeBlanc said. "I need to be ready from the get-go."

NOTES: Marlins first baseman Casey Kotchman is scheduled to go on the 15-day disabled list Friday, the team announced. He injured his left hamstring while running out a double-play grounder in the fifth inning Wednesday. Redmond said Greg Dobbs, who started Thursday, and Austin Kearns should see most of the action at first base for now. The skipper also said the Marlins would not necessarily add a first baseman to take the place of Kotchman on the roster. ... The Nationals announced before the game they signed pitcher Chris Young, who was in spring training with the team, to a minor league contract. He is scheduled to work out in Florida before he joins Triple-A Syracuse. "I like him. He threw the ball well in spring training," Washington manager Davey Johnson said. Young was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts in spring training and is 53-43, 3.79 in 159 career starts. ... Former Nats pitcher Jon Rauch allowed one run in 1 1/3 innings for the Marlins.
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