MIAMI (AP) - For the Washington Nationals, their first visit to Marlins Park was a bust.
Squandered scoring chances Wednesday night again doomed the Nationals, who blew a lead for the third game in a row as the Miami Marlins won 5-3 to complete a three-game sweep.
Washington went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position and 2 for 19 in the series in those situations while scoring only seven runs. The latest loss left the Nationals clinging to a half-game lead in the NL East.
``It's tough to play on the road in a new stadium,' said Danny Espinosa, who had two hits and scored twice in the series finale.
As consolation, the Nationals finished 15-13 this month, their best May since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005. They concluded a 5-4 trip.
``It doesn't feel good to get swept, but if you look at the overall picture, we did play well on the road,' Espinosa said.
Chien-Ming Wang (1-1), making his first start of the season, failed to protect a 3-1 lead. He allowed four runs in four-plus innings.
``I think my tempo tonight was a bit on and off,' Wang said through a translator. ``Sometimes I felt rushed, sometimes felt too slow. I'm kind of disappointed in myself.'
Wang will remain in the rotation, manager Davey Johnson said.
``I thought he was a little rusty,' Johnson said. ``I thought he had good stuff, but a little wildness that cost him. I think he'll be better next time out.'
Giancarlo Stanton hit his 12th home run in May to tie the franchise record for a single month and the Marlins earned their 20th comeback victory, most in the majors.
Stanton hit a solo homer in the seventh inning, his 13th this year, and had a two-out RBI single in the first. Still only 22, Stanton tied Dan Uggla's team record for the most homers in a month and totaled 30 RBIs in May.
With the Marlins off Thursday, Stanton said he's not sorry to see the month end.
``The season's not May,' he said. ``Keep going.'
Since the start of the expansion era in 1961, the only other player under age 23 to total more homers and RBIs in a single month was Bob Horner in 1980, the Marlins said, citing information from the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Marlins rallied from a 3-1 deficit and lead the majors in comeback wins. They went 21-8 in May, best in the majors, and a franchise record for victories in any month.
Josh Johnson (3-3) gave up three runs in six innings and singled home the tying run with his first hit of the year. Johnson and Anibal Sanchez are a combined 16-0 against the Nationals. Sanchez beat them Tuesday.
Heath Bell followed with a scoreless ninth for his third save in the series and 10th this year in 14 chances. Bell struck out pinch hitter Rick Ankiel with runners at the corners to end the game and lowered his ERA to 7.20.
Stanton's latest tape-measure homer came on a 2-2 slider off Ryan Perry. The estimated distance was 413 feet.
``You can't make a mistake on a hitter that's as big and strong as him,' Davey Johnson said. ``Perry threw him a little backup slider and, man, did he straighten it out.'
Catcher Jhonatan Solano, who joined the Nationals on Tuesday, made several defensive contributions in his first major-league start. His sweep tag in the second inning nabbed Bryan Petersen trying to score from third on a flyout to right fielder Roger Bernadina. Solano twice threw out Hanley Ramirez trying to steal second base.
Wang took a two-run lead into the fourth but walked the first two batters, and both scored. After a groundout, Chris Coghlan hit a sacrifice fly, and Johnson followed with a two-out RBI single.
Miami went ahead 4-3 in the fifth. Ramirez led off with a double and later scored on John Buck's infield single.
Espinosa led off the second with a 400-foot triple and scored on Bernadina's sacrifice fly.
Adam LaRoche started the fourth with a double and came home on Espinosa's single. Bernadina followed with an RBI double but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple.
Notes: RHP Henry Rodriguez was the latest player to get hurt for the injury-plagued Nationals. He slammed a finger on his right hand in a bathroom door and threw on the side Wednesday wearing a rubber protective piece. Davey Johnson said Rodriguez might be available to pitch Friday. ... Marlins 2B Omar Infante made a diving catch of Bryce Harper's liner to rob the rookie in the fifth. ... Ramirez hiked his career average against the Nationals to .380 (76 for 200). ... Uggla hit 12 homers in May 2008. ... Donovan Solano affectionately tapped the shin guard of the Nationals' catcher - his brother - stepping to the plate to pinch hit in the eighth. He then walked.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved