Marlins 5, Nationals 3

Hanley Ramirez’s homer helps Miami Marlins salvage a split against Nationals

 

Hanley Ramirez hit his first home run since July 1, and the Marlins knocked off the first-place Nationals in the finale of their four-game series.

a1fernandez@MiamiHerald.com

Manager Ozzie Guillen said it’s simply up to the Marlins’ hitters to work their way out of the team’s ongoing offensive woes.

“When you go to the plate, the video room isn’t going to help you, the manager can’t help you,” Guillen said. “You are up there by yourself.”

A blast from one of the Marlins that has struggled the most recently helped provide some offense Monday during a 5-3 victory over the Washington Nationals in front of 29,248 at Marlins Park.

Hanley Ramirez, who was hitless in six of his previous seven games, broke a recent home run drought with a two-run blast that followed a timely two-run single from Carlos Lee in a four-run third inning.

The Marlins (43-46) mustered more offense in that frame Monday than they had the first three games against the Nationals to earn a four-game series split before their six-game road trip against the Cubs (winners of 10 of their past 13) and the Pirates, contenders in the National League Central. The Marlins had gone 4 for 26 with runners in scoring position the first three games of the series.

Ramirez’s 411-foot shot off Nationals starter Edwin Jackson landed on the bottom-left side of the Marlins Park home run sculpture. It was his first homer since July 1 against the Phillies.

Ramirez’s home run was the only homer for the Marlins in the series.

It came two batters after Lee dropped a single into center field that scored Carlos Zambrano and Jose Reyes to tie the score at 2-2. Zambrano and Reyes led off the inning with back-to-back singles.

The run support was just what Zambrano needed to break his slump on the mound.

In his 300th career start, Zambrano snapped a string of six consecutive starts in which the Marlins lost. During that stretch, Zambrano recorded four consecutive losses.

Zambrano (5-7) pitched six innings and allowed three earned runs on eight hits and walked four to bring his season total to 57.

But the Marlins turned four double plays to limit the damage — the most important coming in the top of the sixth as it protected a 4-3 Marlins lead.

With the bases loaded and one out, Jesus Flores hit a sharp ground ball that forced Reyes to drift toward second. Reyes fielded and flipped it quickly off balance to Omar Infante at second. Infante then turned the inning-ending double play.

Two others came on line drives that Marlins infielders made great plays on to end scoring threats.

Infante made a leaping catch on a line drive by Adam LaRoche in the top of the first and doubled up Bryce Harper at second.

In the top of the fifth, Harper lined a ball to Reyes, who fielded and threw to first to double up Jackson.

The Marlins’ bullpen shut the door as the team continued its closer-by-committee approach.

Heath Bell, the man removed from the closer role, ironically played a big part in the victory. Bell delivered a scoreless eighth inning for the second consecutive game. Mike Dunn picked up the save, giving up one hit and one walk, and striking out LaRoche to end the game.

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