April 4, 2013

Miami Marlins can’t solve Gio Gonzalez, fall to Washington Nationals

The Marlins were blanked again, with Hialeah’s Gio Gonzalez doing the honors on a blustery night, and Casey Kotchman left with a hamstring injury.

Kevin Slowey has not posted a victory in three seasons. If the Marlins are never able to score, Slowey’s drought could continue ad infinitum .

The Marlins remained winless — and scoreless — after dropping a 3-0 decision to Gio Gonzalez and the Washington Nationals on a chilly, blustery Wednesday night in which the Marlins’ bats remained in deep freeze. It was only the 13th time in major-league history and first since Arizona did it in 2002 that a team opened a season with back-to-back shutout victories.

Gonzalez not only blanked the Marlins for six innings, his homer off Slowey gave the Nationals the only run they needed.

It hasn’t taken much to beat the Marlins thus far. They were edged 2-0 in Monday’s season opener on a pair of Bryce Harper solo shots. They have mustered just seven total hits in the two games.

Compounding the misery for the Marlins: first baseman Casey Kotchman sustained a hamstring injury and left the game. The Marlins are already down one injured first baseman, Logan Morrison. Reserve infielder Greg Dobbs took over at first for Kotchman, who is listed as day-to-day.

Slowey, who was seeking his first win since the 2010 season when he was a member of the Minnesota Twins, couldn’t be faulted for Wednesday’s loss. Slowey held the Nationals to only four hits through 5 1/3 innings.

One of those, however, happened to be the surprise blow by the Nationals pitcher, which came up with one out in the fifth and landed in the left-field bleachers. Gonzalez brought a career .083 average to the plate when he took Slowey deep.

“The home run itself was a slider that I actually tried to bury, tried to throw a good one, and he just kind of got underneath it,” Slowey said.

But that was Slowey’s only serious mistake. He, like Ricky Nolasco on Monday, pitched well enough for the Marlins to win. Wins will be tough to come by if the Marlins can’t figure out a way to score. Then again, the Marlins have had to face two of the majors’ premiere pitchers in the first two games in Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg.

“We’ve got a couple of guys maybe pressing a little bit, too,” manager Mike Redmond said. “We’ve just to keep grinding it out, get that first run across, take a little pressure off guys.”

The Marlins put runners in scoring position just three times Wednesday and came up empty each time. Justin Ruggiano doubled to lead off the fifth but advanced no further. Kotchman grounded into a double play in which he tumbled over the bag at first and immediately grabbed his left hamstring.

“He grabbed that thing right away and went down in a heap, so we’ll see,” Redmond said. “Those things, typically, are pretty sore the next day.”

The Marlins also had a runner at second with one out in the sixth. But Gonzalez struck out Donovan Solano and Giancarlo Stanton to end the inning. And they had two men aboard with one out in the ninth. But Rafael Soriano got the final two outs to close out the win for the Nationals.

The Nationals scored an unearned run in the seventh after Danny Espinosa reached on Solano’s fielding error to start the inning and tacked on one more in the eighth on Ryan Zimmerman’s run-scoring single after Harper doubled off the wall to get things going for the Nationals.

Harper already has four hits in the series, or three fewer than all of the Marlins put together.

Slowey has now lost nine consecutive starts, including his final eight outings of the 2011 season when he finished 0-8. His last major-league win came on Sept. 18, 2010.

“I want to leave the past in the past,” Slowey said. “For me, at this moment in my career, it really is about every game. I certainly would have loved to get the win [Wednesday], not just for me, but for the team.”

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