Nationals swept by Marlins

Nationals swept by Marlins

MIAMI -- At this point it's not just the losses that are upsetting manager Frank Robinson, it's the way his team is losing.

Any chance the Nationals had of avoiding a three-game sweep by the Marlins evaporated quickly in a 9-7 loss on Wednesday night at Dolphin Stadium.

"You can take good losses -- you don't get used to them, but you can accept good losses," Robinson said. "Ugly losses, bad losses, sloppy losses, those are just not acceptable."

Wednesday's game certainly fell into the category of ugly losses. The game was not nearly as close as the final score would indicate. The Marlins built up a seven-run lead early, and though the Nationals managed to pull within two, they had little chance of pulling out the win.

Tony Armas endured his shortest outing of the season, lasting just 1 2/3 innings while allowing five earned runs, eight altogether, on 10 hits. The loss was his third in his past five decisions.

The short outing was the third in the past five games in which a Nationals veteran -- the other two being Ramon Ortiz and Pedro Astacio -- did not make it beyond the second inning.

"You take three of your veteran pitchers and you can't get into the fourth inning, that's just not acceptable," Robinson said.

Following the loss, Robinson sat in his office with general manager Jim Bowden for more than 15 minutes in a meeting in which Robinson said they took the chance to vent.

"Nothing serious or anything like that, just letting off some steam," he said. "We're all frustrated with the way we've been playing, especially on this road trip. It's not fun, and it's not enjoyable, so we just got it out of our system, and hopefully we can turn it around."

The loss, the Nationals' fifth in a row, drops them 21 games back in the National League East.

Holding a 1-0 lead in the first, Armas got himself into deep trouble right from the start. He gave up a leadoff single to Hanley Ramirez, who was driven home by Dan Uggla in the next at-bat thanks to an RBI triple down the right-field line.

Armas then allowed three straight singles, the first of which, by Miguel Cabrera, drove in another run. The Marlins capped off the inning when Jeremy Hermida hit an RBI groundout that drove in Josh Willingham, giving Florida a 3-1 lead.

Things went from bad to worse in the second. Cabrera hit what appeared to be a double off the center-field wall, but it was ruled to be a two-run homer.

The ball was originally called a double by first-base umpire Phil Cuzzi, but crew chief Jerry Crawford assembled the umpires to discuss the play and later declared it it a home run. Robinson came out to argue the fact that Marlins manager Joe Girardi argued the call to Crawford instead of Cuzzi, who'd made the original call.

"You go out to the guy that makes the call and ask him if he would give Cabrera a home run," Robinson said. "But he went to the crew chief, who had nothing to do with the call. I think that's the wrong approach."

For his part, Alex Escobar, who attempted to field the ball, felt that it was a home run.

"I heard it hit the railing, I didn't hear it catching on the railing," Escobar said. "I think it was the right decision by the umpire."

The call stood, and six batters later -- a span that included a pair of RBI singles by Hermida and Scott Olsen that drove in three runs -- Armas was out of the game. In both the first and second innings, the Marlins batted through their entire order. Cabrera would add another homer in the bottom of the third, giving Florida a 9-2 lead.

"It just seemed like everything they hit dropped or went through," Armas said. "I've got no excuse, it was just one of those days. I didn't do my job today."

Robinson was blunt about the fact that Armas didn't have his "A" game with him.

"He just didn't have anything, really," he said. "His pitches were flat, his location was horrible."

Escobar, looking fully recovered in his first start since spending two nights in the hospital with an elbow infection, had given the Nationals the early lead when he lined an RBI double in the first off Olsen.

The Nationals added three runs thanks to Henry Mateo's RBI single and solo home run, the first of his Major League career, as well as a solo blast by Austin Kearns that cut the deficit to 9-4.

Then in the ninth, Marlins reliever Randy Messenger gave up a one-out single to Felipe Lopez. After striking out Kearns, he walked Escobar and gave up a three-run homer to Daryle Ward that brought the Nationals within two.

Unfortunately, it was too little, too late, as Messenger struck out Mateo for the final out to seal the win for the Marlins.

Kevin Fiorenzo is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.