Weary Nationals lose to Marlins 5-3
By STEVEN WINE
MIAMI (AP) Short on sleep, the first-place Washington Nationals were off their game Monday.
Sloppy defense and missed chances at the plate proved costly as the Nationals lost to the Miami Marlins 5-3.
Coming off a sweep of the Braves, the Nationals had a quick turnaround for the 1:10 p.m. start after a night game Sunday in Atlanta. They arrived at their hotel in South Florida at 3 a.m.
"It's tough to come back, getting in so late last night," said Steve Lombardozzi, who had three hits. "But I thought we battled."
The Nationals went 1 for 7 with runners with runners in scoring position. Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman committed a rare error, and center fielder Rick Ankiel had a pair of defensive lapses that let Miami score an insurance run in the seventh.
The homer by Stanton made the score 3-all in the sixth.
"Jordan pitched a good ballgame. He just made a bad pitch to Stanton," manager Davey Johnson said. "It was a hanging slider over the middle of the plate. Not a good idea. He was so in control until that inning."
Stanton's homer was his 11th in May, one short of the Marlins' record for a month, and his 12th this season.
Reliever Edward Mujica got five outs while facing only four batters, and struggling closer Heath Bell pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save in 12 chances. Bell had failed to finish the ninth in his previous two outings.
The Marlins improved to 19-8 since May 1, best in the majors, and tied the franchise record for victories in any month. They're 5-9 against the NL East, while Washington fell to 11-4 within the division.
Carlos Zambrano (3-3) allowed three runs and seven hits in six-plus innings and came away impressed by the Nationals.
"Man, I'll tell you what, I found out why they're in first place," Zambrano said. "Those kids can hit. They're good. The only mistake I made today was to Zimmermann. Otherwise I was in control. I made some good pitches that they hit."
Zambrano took a 4-3 lead into the seventh but departed after the first two batters reached. Left fielder Chris Coghlan made a running catch of Bryce Harper's fly, and after Mujica entered the game, Zimmerman grounded into a double play.
"We had the right guys up," Johnson said. "We just didn't get it done."
Jose Reyes produced an insurance run for Miami in the seventh. He kept running after hitting a blooper to short center and barely beat Ankiel's throw to second for a double.
"I was a little upset at Ankiel," Johnson said. "He's too good of a player to not know that the guy is going to try to stretch that. You can't assume he's not going for two. That put us in a hole right there."
Reyes took third on a groundout to the left side, then scored without a play when Ankiel juggled Hanley Ramirez's shallow fly in his haste to throw home.
"That's the baseball I love," Guillen said. "That was a huge run."
Three consecutive hits in the fifth put the Nationals ahead. Lombardozzi and Harper singled, and Zimmerman cleared the bases when he doubled off the base of the wall to make the score 3-1.
Zimmermann pulled a 2-2 curve over the left-field fence in the third inning for the game's first run. He paused at second base and checked with the umpire because he was unsure the ball had cleared left fielder Coghlan's glove.
"It's hard to see," he said. "There's so many bright objects out there, and he kind of fell down. I didn't know if he had it in the glove or not."
Trying for another homer in his next at-bat, Zimmerman swung so hard he nearly fell as he struck out.
NOTES: 3B Ramirez, who moved to a new position this season, made only his second error when he threw wildly in the first inning. ... Miami C John Buck ended an 0-for-26 slump when he singled in the second. ... RHP Anibal Sanchez, who is scheduled to start Tuesday, is 7-0 with a 2.18 ERA in 18 starts against Washington. ... Game-time temperature was 78 degrees - under the retractable roof. Outdoors the heat index was 99.
Updated May 28, 2012