MIAMI (AP) - Two bad throws hurt the Florida Marlins as much as any pitch Thursday night.
The errors led to a pair of unearned runs, and the Marlins' bid for a series sweep fell short when they lost to the Washington Nationals 5-3 in 11 innings.
Washington's Adam LaRoche hit a two-run homer in the 11th, but the game never would have gone that far if the Marlins played better defense. They also struck out 12 times and went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
``We had chances to score more runs, but we didn't come through,' manager Edwin Rodriguez said.
As a result, Washington snapped a streak of seven consecutive losses against Florida dating to July 17. The Nationals improved to 12-33 versus the Marlins since mid-2006.
The Marlins said improving their perennially shaky defense was a priority this season, but they've allowed eight unearned runs in six games. The latest lapses forced ace Josh Johnson to throw extra pitches, and he departed after six innings.
Johnson gave up three runs, one earned.
``You have to make pitches whenever it matters,' he said. ``I didn't do that.'
The errant throws were by shortstop Hanley Ramirez and catcher John Buck. Wilson Ramos reached in the fifth on Ramirez's third error this season. A single sent Ramos to third, and he came home on Danny Espinosa's groundout.
The Nationals scored another unearned run an inning later to take a 3-2 lead. Ian Desmond led off with a single, stole second and continued to third on Buck's wild throw. Zimmerman followed with an RBI single.
``We have to keep coming to the ballpark and improve every day,' Ramirez said. ``But everybody is together. I like this group of guys. Everybody feels we are family right now. It's kind of different from last year.'
The Marlins' first two batters scored, but they added only one run after that.
``We had some opportunities. I had some opportunities,' said Chris Coghlan, who failed twice with runners in scoring position. ``We didn't get the job done. That's baseball. Hopefully we can capitalize on them better in the future.'
Announced attendance was 10,696, but the actual crowd totaled less than 5,000, creating an atmosphere so subdued that plate umpire Jeff Nelson could be heard from the skybox level during an angry exchange in the fifth inning.
``That's enough,' Nelson shouted, pointing toward the Washington dugout. ``That's enough.'
Jayson Werth hit his first homer since signing a $126 million, seven-year contract to join the Nationals, but he went headfirst into third because he thought the ball was still in play.
LaRoche was 3 for 23 with one RBI before he hit his first homer of the year off Edward Mujica (1-1). That ended a streak of 12 2-3 scoreless innings for Florida's bullpen in the series.
Todd Coffey (1-0), who was ejected from Wednesday's game for arguing about ball-strike calls, pitched a perfect 10th. Sean Burnett, extending a streak of 21 consecutive shutout innings since Aug. 26, pitched the 11th for his second save in as many chances.
NOTES: RF Mike Stanton, who missed his fifth consecutive start with a strained left hamstring, struck out pinch hitting in the ninth. The Marlins are hoping he'll rejoin the lineup sometime this weekend at Houston. ... Florida fell to 1-2 in extra-inning games. ... Nationals LF Michael Morse, off to a 2-for-18 start, was held out of the lineup and grounded out as a pinch hitter.
The Associated Press News Service
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