WASHINGTON (AP) - In the first four years after Nationals Park opened, the home team hated seeing the Marlins come to town.
In the stadium's fifth season, Washington has a much better club.
Ross Detwiler and three relievers combined on a four-hitter, Rick Ankiel homered and had three hits and the Nationals beat Miami 2-0 on Friday night in the first meeting between the teams this year.
Before the game, Nationals manager Davey Johnson talked about how much he was looking forward to playing the Marlins, who had won 27 of 36 games at Nationals Park. It was a good test for his club.
``This is a big series. We've had a history of not playing good against Florida - or Miami. Not that we thrashed them, but we beat them first time out of the chute,' Johnson said.
``We know we're pretty good. We just have to go prove it.'
Detwiler (2-0) allowed three hits over six innings and struck out seven, equaling a career high. Craig Stammen threw a perfect seventh and Tyler Clippard struck out Hanley Ramirez with two on to end the eighth after walking Emilio Bonifacio on 14 pitches.
``That was a tremendous battle,' Johnson said. ``The last guy I wanted to see come up with two guys on was Ramirez, and he handled him all right.'
Henry Rodriguez walked two in the ninth but still earned his fourth save as Washington improved to 11-4.
Miami had its four-game winning streak snapped.
``They pitched well,' Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. ``We fight. We wanted the matchup. We get to the point, that's the matchup we want with Hanley hitting. We couldn't get the big hit today.'
Leading off the third, Ankiel drove a 2-0 pitch from Carlos Zambrano (0-1) far over the center-field wall for his first home run of the year.
``They've got a chance to be really good, and so do we. Emotionally, you get hyped up,' Ankiel said.
In the eighth, Ankiel doubled to right with one out off Steve Cishek, went to third on an infield out and scored on an RBI single by Ian Desmond.
Ankiel's slide into second was nifty. He faked putting his left hand on the bag, pulled it back and eluded Bonifacio's tag by putting down his right hand.
Zambrano is 8-4 against the Nationals, and hadn't lost in Washington since May 14, 2005. He allowed just two hits - both by Ankiel, who also singled in the fifth. In seven innings, Zambrano struck out six and walked none. It was Ankiel who cost him a chance for his first win of the season.
``I wasn't aggressive on that pitch, and I have to be more aggressive,' Zambrano said. ``A good hitter, when you throw a pitch that stays in the zone, they will make you pay.'
Detwiler threw 79 pitches and was in trouble only in the second inning when Giancarlo Stanton led off with a single and former National Austin Kearns doubled with one out. When John Buck flied out to center, Stanton didn't try testing Ankiel's strong arm. Runners remained at second and third as Donnie Murphy struck out.
Johnson removed Detwiler for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the sixth.
``To be able to get through the first inning, maybe the first couple, that's huge for me,' he said.
Pitching on a deep Washington staff, Detwiler will have to fend off a challenge from Chien-Ming Wang to remain in the rotation when Wang he returns from the disabled list.
``I do have to prove myself every time out because there's someone great right behind me. Once he's healthy, it's my job to put it in their hands,' Detwiler said.
Jose Reyes hit a long fly to center that Ankiel caught up with to end the fifth. He also made a fine running catch on Chris Coghlan to start the eighth
``He was basically our offense - and our defense,' Johnson said.
NOTES: Nationals pitchers have allowed just two home runs in 140 innings this season. ... Miami 2B Omar Infante won't start this weekend due to a sore left groin, Guillen said. Infante could be used in an emergency as a pinch-hitter. Guillen hopes Infante will be able to play Tuesday in New York. ... Washington RHP Edwin Jackson, who pitched for St. Louis last season, will be presented with his World Series ring before Saturday's game by former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. ... The Marlins will start RHP Anibal Sanchez (1-0, 2.92 ERA) on Saturday against Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg (2-0, 1.42).
The Associated Press News Service
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