WASHINGTON -- Mother Nature accomplished what the Marlins couldn’t on Wednesday. With a sudden downpour in the second inning, she brought about Stephen Strasburg’s early departure.
But the elements provided no respite for the Marlins, as the Nationals — even without their ace — still won, 4-3. With the defeat, the Marlins (49-82) are assured of their fourth consecutive losing season.
On a night in which the Marlins produced at the plate with 10 hits, which included solo home runs from Giancarlo Stanton and Jeff Mathis, they were still unable to come up with a win. They have now lost seven of their past eight and are 6-17 since Aug. 3.
A second-inning downpour led to a 72-minute rain delay.
When play resumed, both starting pitchers — Strasburg and the Marlins’ Henderson Alvarez — were replaced on the mound.
Trailing 2-0, the Marlins rallied with a run in the fifth on Mathis’ fourth home run, tied it in the sixth on Stanton’s 17th and took the lead that inning on a Mathis RBI single.
But the lead didn’t last.
Jayson Werth homered off Arquimedes Caminero in the sixth to tie it, and the Nationals took the lead for good in the seventh on Ian Desmond’s two-out hit off Mike Dunn, who had walked Werth intentionally to get to Desmond.
The Marlins had runners at first and second with no outs in the seventh but failed to score when Stanton struck out and Logan Morrison and Donovan Solano each popped out to second.
About the only silver lining for the Marlins was a new lineup rolled out Wednesday by manager Mike Redmond in an attempt to generate offense, which has been inn short supply.
Justin Ruggiano had two hits from the leadoff spot and has now gone 13 for 28 since ending his 0-for-42 drought. Christian Yelich was dropped into the three hole and reached twice on a pair of walks.
None of it was enough to prevent another Marlins loss and pushed Miami closer to the brink of elimination in the National League East.
Jose Fernandez could make his final start of the season at home if the Marlins decide to insert a September call-up into the rotation in the coming days.
“We’ve thought about that, and we’re still talking about that, and we’ll probably have a better idea of exactly what we’re going to do after his next start,” Redmond said of Fernandez.
Fernandez will likely make two more starts before the team shuts him down. He is scheduled to make his next start Friday in Atlanta and is in line to pitch again on Sept. 4 in Chicago.
But the Marlins could work it out so they give the rookie a home sendoff at Marlins Park, where he has gone 7-0 this season with a 1.29 ERA.
The Marlins and the rest of their NL East brethren will be matched against AL West opponents in interleague play next season.
The tentative schedule has the Marlins traveling to Houston (Astros), Texas (Rangers) and Anaheim (Angels), and hosting the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s.
Once again, the Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays will play each other.
Taking a trip
When it comes to tripping and falling on the field, Marlins reliever Chad Qualls now has company. The Angels’ C.J. Wilson tripped and fell Monday while on his way to the mound at Tropicana Field.
“I guess it’s still a dubious honor to have the worst one of the year,” Qualls said of his stumble at Marlins Park earlier in the season, when he fell while in the process of a fist pump. “But those things do happen. I think he [Wilson] played it pretty good.
“Fortunately for me, I was done with my inning, whereas he was going out to the mound to continue to pitch, so he had to get over it really quick and get guys out.”
• Thursday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (3-8, 4.45 ERA) at Washington Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez (7-6, 3.72), 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park.
• Friday: Marlins RHP Fernandez (10-5, 2.30) at Atlanta Braves RHP Julio Teheran (10-7, 3.08), 7:30 p.m., Turner Field.
• Scouting report: Koehler is 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA in four road starts between June 20 and Aug. 7 but is 2-4 with a 4.30 ERA in his nine road starts overall this season.