MIAMI (AP) - For the last game at the Florida Marlins' first stadium, the atmosphere was far from funereal.
There were standing ovations for manager Jack McKeon, who's beginning his latest retirement; for Charlie Hough, who threw the first pitch in franchise history; and even for Washington Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez, a hero on the Marlins' 2003 World Series championship team.
When Logan Morrison stepped to the plate with two outs in the ninth, fans were on their feet again. Then he struck out, and the place went silent.
The Marlins bid their much-maligned stadium goodbye Wednesday with a 3-1 loss to Washington.
``Thanks for the memories,' McKeon said.
Next year the Marlins move into a new ballpark with new manager Ozzie Guillen, who held his introductory news conference before the game. The Nationals also have a brighter future thanks to Strasburg (1-1), who threw a gem in his fifth start since returning from elbow surgery.
The top pick in the 2009 draft allowed one hit and struck out 10 in six scoreless innings to earn his first win since July 2010. He gave up his first two walks this season but was otherwise dominant.
``It felt pretty good out there to go out and pound the strike zone like I know I can,' Strasburg said.
Having the right-hander for a full season should make a big difference for the Nationals, who finished 80-81 - their sixth consecutive losing season. Florida wound up last in the NL East at 72-90.
Too much rain often meant too few fans at the Marlins' stadium, but on a sunny afternoon the atmosphere was lively, with the crowd of 34,615 in a sentimental mood. The 80-year-old McKeon received a long standing ovation before the game, then stepped down with a record of 1,051-990.
``I hate to see it end,' McKeon said. ``It's emotional, no question. What got me were the fans. That was special.'
The crowd included more than 20 former Marlins honored after the game. Among the old-timers were Hough, who was the pitcher for the franchise's first game in 1993 and returned to the same mound to throw out the final ceremonial first pitch.
Rodriguez received a big ovation the first time he batted in the second inning.
``I got goose bumps,' he said.
Fans were on their feet again at the end.
``It was great to see the fans' support,' losing pitcher Chris Volstad said. ``There have been a lot of memories for a lot of people. To be part of all that is very special.'
The entire Marlins team and owner Jeffrey Loria congregated in the left-field corner before the sixth inning to tear the last number off the 2-year-old sign counting down the games remaining in the stadium. Florida played 1,504 games there and went 781-723.
It was also the franchise's finale as the Florida Marlins. In conjunction with the move to a ballpark near downtown, the team officially becomes the Miami Marlins on Nov. 11.
The unusual 4:10 starting time appeared to make it difficult for hitters to see the ball in the early innings as shadows crept across home plate. Volstad (5-13) allowed no hits in the first four innings. Strasburg gave up a single and two walks in the second, but a double play helped him escape.
The pace of the game made it clear players were heading into the offseason. In the fifth inning all five Nationals batters swung at the first pitch, including Ian Desmond, who hit a two-run single.
The relative brevity of the finale was a big change for the Nationals, who ended the season with a 14-inning win in 2010 and a 15-inning victory in 2009.
On this occasion, there wasn't even any rain, and that won't be a concern for the Marlins in the future. Their new ballpark has a retractable roof.
NOTES: The Nationals finished 23-40 in the stadium. ... The Marlins drew 1.52 million fans at home to finish last in the NL in attendance for the seventh consecutive year. ... Florida's batting average of .247 was the lowest in team history. ... Marlins founding owner Wayne Huizenga was booed when introduced after the game. Many fans have never forgiven him for dismantling the 1997 World Series champions in a payroll purge.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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