John Buck ended his day in a Marlins uniform Sunday by balling up a piece of tape and shooting it toward a trash can in the middle of the clubhouse.
“That was a damn good shot,’’ Buck said as the ball of tape nestled sweetly into the bottom of the trash can. “At least something went right today.’’
Although the Marlins hit a handful of shots Sunday — including a few with their bats — the only one that landed in a desirable location was Buck’s jumper.
The rest? Those seemed to land in either Roger Bernadina’s glove in center field or Ryan Zimmerman’s mitt at third as the first-place Nationals emerged with a 4-0 victory over the Marlins in front of 29,889 at Marlins Park. It’s the ninth time this season the Marlins (42-46) have been shut out.
“That’s the reason we lost,’’ Guillen said pointing to his team’s 1-for-13 effort with runners in scoring position. “We got golden opportunities. We had one of the best pitchers in the game against the ropes and we didn’t take advantage. You want to be good, you have to get those things done.’’
Stephen Strasburg pitched six scoreless innings and struck out seven to improve to 3-1 with a 1.83 ERA in his career against the Marlins. In six career starts, Strasburg (10-4, 2.66 ERA in 2012) has held the Marlins without a run four times and has given up more than one run against them just once.
Sunday, the 23-year old former first overall pick also hurt the Marlins with his bat, driving in the Nationals’ first run with a two-out single to right field off Ricky Nolasco in the fifth after the Marlins intentionally walked catcher Jhonatan Solano (.294) to face Strasburg, who is hitting .385 this season.
“You don’t second-guess that. It was the right move to make,’’ said Nolasco (8-7), who lasted just 5 1/3 innings and gave up six hits and four earned runs. “I just let Ozzie down by not making the pitch there to Strasburg.
The Nationals had no trouble dodging the Marlins’ threats.
After Buck struck out swinging with runners on second and third to end the second, the Marlins loaded the bases in the third on Carlos Lee’s single to center.
But after third base coach Joe Espada held Nolasco at third on Lee’s hit (despite a bad throw home by Bernadina that sailed over Solano’s head), Strasburg struck out Logan Morrison and got Hanley Ramirez to bounce out.
“People can think whatever they want. It is a pitcher running,’’ Guillen said of why Nolasco wasn’t waved home. “The third-base coach can’t assume the ball will be over the catcher’s head.’’
Bernadina made up for his bad throw with two stellar catches over the next two innings to save runs. After an Emilio Bonifacio double, Bernadina raced back to make a diving catch and rob Buck of a double. Then, in the fifth with runners on first and second, he came racing in to catch a hard-hit ball by Morrison.
The Marlins loaded the bases with nobody out in the ninth. But Nationals closer Tyler Clippard rebounded from back-to-back walks by striking out Justin Ruggiano and then getting Jose Reyes to pop out to Solano at home. Clippard then ended the game and picked up his 15th save when he got Omar Infante to fly out to Bryce Harper, who made a diving catch.
“What adds onto the frustration today is that we actually hit the ball and they made the plays,” Buck said. “We had good at-bats, had [Strasburg’s] pitch count up, had him on the ropes. Nevertheless, we have to find a way to break through.”