WASHINGTON (AP) - Florida Marlins manager Jack McKeon was decidedly disappointed in his players' inability to draw a walk.
After all, in the course of 22 innings over two games against the Washington Nationals, including Florida's 4-3 loss Sunday, the Marlins drew exactly zero free passes.
``You don't get paid to take a walk. Walks help you win. There's a lot of cases where that's the key to winning ballgames. Bases on balls. We walk them, what happens? We get beat. Our guys are allergic to taking walks,' McKeon said.
``They play by the players' association rules: Thou must swing at 3-1 and 2-0,' he added.
His Marlins won in 13 innings Saturday night despite failing to draw a walk, but they weren't able to overcome the lack of men on base Sunday against Chien-Ming Wang, who made the longest start of his comeback from shoulder surgery. Wang left with two outs in the seventh inning after allowing three runs, six hits and zero walks, helping Washington edge Florida.
The only thing truly at stake for either club is avoiding a last-place finish in the NL East, but some individual players are keen to make an impression with next year in mind, and Wang (3-3) looked good for much of the afternoon in earning his first win in more than a month.
The right-hander allowed runs on Gaby Sanchez's 19th homer, a solo shot in the fifth inning, and Brett Hayes' two-run homer in the seventh - both liners to left that barely cleared the wall.
``He's nasty - those 91 mph sinkers,' Hayes said.
After his homer pulled Florida to 4-3, Wang departed to a partial standing ovation. Tyler Clippard got the next four outs, and closer Drew Storen pitched the ninth for his 38th save in 43 chances.
For the Marlins, the loss ended an 11-game road trip, their first to take the team to four cities since 2005. They went 6-5.
``Feels like we've been on the road since July,' Hayes said. ``It's just that time of the year where you just got to grind through it.'
Florida rookie Brad Hand (1-8) lost his fifth consecutive start, allowing four runs - three earned - and five hits in four innings.
``I think my pitch count was up there, but I was feeling good. Felt strong. Would have liked to stay in the game,' Hand said. ``Wang pitched good, so I knew I couldn't give up many runs.'
It was Wang's 10th appearance - one lasted 6 1-3 innings - since returning to the big leagues on July 29, exactly two years after an operation on his pitching shoulder. He hadn't been on a mound in the majors since July 4, 2009, when he was with the New York Yankees.
Wang twice won 19 games in a season with the Yankees, and showed signs of that sort of stuff Sunday, getting groundball out after groundball out. Only four of the 20 outs he recorded were flyballs.
He hadn't won a game since Aug. 16 against the Cincinnati Reds, going 0-1 in five starts since.
Some head's-up baserunning by Jonny Gomes put Washington on the scoreboard in the second. Gomes led off with a double to straightaway center, then moved up a base on Espinosa's groundout to third baseman Greg Dobbs, who left the bag to glove the ball in the hole.
Chris Marrero then sent a fly to shallow right, and Gomes slid in to score barely ahead of the tag from outfielder Mike Stanton's one-bounce throw to the plate.
Washington scored three in the fourth, which Ryan Zimmerman led off with his second double of the game, a rope down the left-field line. After Michael Morse walked and Gomes struck out, Espinosa lined a single to center, and the ball hopped over the glove of hard-charging center fielder Bryan Petersen and kept bouncing and rolling for several feet.
By the time Petersen corralled it, two runs had scored and Espinosa was on third. Espinosa entered the game with 60 RBIs as a rookie, but none since Sept. 4.
Marrero followed with a ground-rule double that made it 4-0.
NOTES: Marlins RF Stanton made a sliding catch of a soft sinking bloop off Wang's bat in the third. 2B Omar Infante also was tracking the ball and fell face-first in the grass after tripping over Stanton. ... Entering Sunday, Florida had been 13-1 at Washington since the 2010 All-Star break. ... On Monday, Florida opens a three-game series at home against the Atlanta Braves. The Marlins are only 4-11 against the Braves this season. Florida will start RHP Ricky Nolasco in the series opener, while Atlanta sends LHP Mike Minor to the mound.
The Associated Press News Service
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