Marlins pour it on Nats, 6-3, continuing to score with ease

Latest example: Moehler gets walk, run in big third

Baseball

April 20, 2005|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Entering last night's game, Florida Marlins pitcher Brian Moehler had been to the plate 31 times in his major league career. Number of hits? Zero.

So how is it that the Washington Nationals could have allowed Moehler to walk and score to begin a decisive five-run third inning?

It's the sort of puzzling question that often seems to crop up for the Nationals when they play the Marlins, who have now beaten them four out of five.

With their 6-3 victory, the Marlins have outscored Washington, 34-10. They pounded out 10 hits last night, after collecting 12 hits and nine runs the night before. Before the two-game Washington series, the Marlins had scored only 12 runs in their previous four games.

In addition to losing the game, the Nationals also lost reliever T.J. Tucker, who limped off the mound in the sixth inning and left the game with a right groin strain. He is expected to miss two to four weeks.

If the Nationals are ever going to be successful - really successful - they are going to have to figure out a way to be competitive against their National League East foes, who tied them atop the division last night with an 8-6 mark.

With the Nationals ahead 1-0, Moehler came to the plate with one out in the third inning and walked on a 3-1 count from loser Livan Hernandez (1-2) without ever swinging the bat.

"I didn't think I'd be the one to start it off," Moehler said with a smile. "I'm sure if I hang around long enough I'll run into a hit."

He advanced on singles by Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo and scored on Carlos Delgado's sacrifice fly to tie the game. Miguel Cabrera's RBI single gave Florida the lead and Juan Encarnacion followed with a double to make it 3-1. Paul Lo Duca's single knocked in two more.

"We had one of those innings again there where we couldn't close it out," said Nationals manager Frank Robinson.

He said he was not overly concerned with the team's two-game slide. "This is not critical - too many games left in the season. If we were playing football, we'd be in trouble."

Delgado made it 6-1 with a home run in the fifth for Florida, which had not hit a homer in its previous five games.

Robinson said Hernandez had some disagreements with umpire Marvin Hudson over the strike zone. "I think he let the umpire's strike zone get into his head," the manager said.

The Nationals collected 10 hits against three Florida pitchers. But they left 10 runners on base.

It wasn't all bad for Washington. Cristian Guzman, who was 3-for-37 in his previous 11 games, was lowered in the batting order from second to eighth. But he singled in the second to set up Washington's first run. Guzman doubled and singled in his next two appearances.

NOTES: Third baseman Vinny Castilla bruised his left shin and is listed as day-to-day. ... The Nationals sometimes employed an extreme shift against the left-handed-hitting Delgado, leaving the left side of the infield almost wide open. But Delgado crossed up the defense by singling through the left side in the first. ... Tucker pitched two-thirds of an inning without surrendering a hit before he left in the sixth inning. ... Moehler walked two and struck out four. It was his first major league decision since a loss at Montreal on Sept. 28, 2002. ... Delgado, Cabrera and Encarnacion each had two hits. ... Hernandez drove in Washington's first run with a squeeze bunt in the second inning.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Nationals tonight

Opponent: Atlanta Braves

Site, time: RFK Stadium, Washington, 7:05

TV/Radio: None/104.1 FM

Starters: Braves' Horacio Ramirez (1-0, 4.50) vs. Nationals' Zach Day (0-1, 8.44)

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