Nats drop series finale against Marlins

Nats drop series finale against Marlins

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals came back from a four-run deficit to tie the score, but ended up losing the game, 9-6, in front of 21,304 on Thursday night at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

The Marlins took two out of three games from the Nationals in the series.

With the score tied at 6, manager Frank Robinson had to rely on his inexperienced bullpen in the eighth inning.

Normally, Robinson would have used Micah Bowie or Jon Rauch in that situation, but Bowie is hurt and, according to Robinson, Rauch was overworked. Instead, Robinson went to Ryan Wagner, a person whom, the organization acknowledged, needed to work on his mechanics. The Nationals are trying to get him to throw three-quarters and sidearm as opposed to throwing completing overhanded.

Wagner found himself in trouble early in the eighth, when the Marlins had runners on first and second with one out. After he got Reggie Abercrombie to pop up to shortstop Felipe Lopez, Wagner uncorked a wild pitch to put runner on second and third and Wes Helms at the plate.

Helms then doubled near the left-field line to drive in Josh Willingham and Miguel Olivo to give the Marlins an 8-6 lead.

"It was fastball in. We wanted it in, I got it in. He got the bat head out there just enough to keep it fair," Wagner said. "I checked it over on the video. The fastball was up a little bit, but it was in. It's just one of those things."

The Marlins added another run in the ninth inning, when Olivo singled to right field to score off Saul Rivera and drive in Alfredo Amezaga.

Robinson didn't seem surprised that his relievers didn't come through Thursday.

"We just didn't make good pitches. [We] got behind hitters," Robinson said. "It's not frustrating. You know what you have going in. You hope you get a decent performance when you are called on to do it. One thing about it is, the one thing you are not going to have from them is consistency. That's the thing. You may get it one night, but you may not get it for another three or four nights.

"We kind of had that problem all year long to where the bullpen has given up runs in the [late innings]," he said. "We haven't been able to shut people down in the back end of ballgames this year."

The bullpen wasn't the only problem for the Nationals on Thurdsay. They had a couple of chances to take the Marlins out of the game. In the first inning, Washington had the bases loaded with no outs, but Anibal Sanchez managed to get out of the inning unscathed.

Nick Johnson made the first out by popping out to second baseman Dan Uggla. Austin Kearns followed and hit into a double play.

"You couldn't ask for a better opportunity than we had. To come away with nothing, that's devastating, really," Robinson said. "We always remember the end of games, but you know if you take care of business early on, then it wouldn't come to [talking about the end of the game]."

Kearns said Sanchez changed his whole game plan against the Nationals. The previous time they met in Florida, Sanchez threw sinkers and curveballs. This time, Sanchez threw sliders and cutters.

"He did a good job getting out of it. But you want to be up there in those situations," Kearns said.

The Marlins' victory spoiled a nice comeback by the Nationals in the bottom of the seventh inning, in which they scored four runs to tie the score at 6.

Reliever Sergio Mitre couldn't get a hitter out, walking the bases loaded with no outs. Enter Brian Moehler, who allowed a two-run single to Nick Johnson.

After Moehler got Kearns to hit into a force play and struck out Ryan Church, Brian Schneider singled to right-center field to score Johnson to make it a one-run game.

Pinch-hitter Daryle Ward then tied the game with a double to left field to score Kerns and tie the score at 6.

"We battled back. That's good. Still, you look up there and you say, 'If we could put something on the board [early], maybe we would have won this game,'" Robinson said. "With our pitchers and the lack of experience, we are going to have to score some runs. When we get opportunities, we have to take advantage of them. We can't expect to win ballgames, 3-2, 4-3. We have to put six or more runs on the board to win ballgames now."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.