Big inning, Big Z's double plays beat Nats

Big inning, Big Z's double plays beat Nats

Big inning, Big Z's double plays beat Nats
MIAMI -- The Marlins needed one big inning to win their series finale against the Nationals on Monday night.

Hanley Ramirez capped a four-run third to push the Marlins past the Nationals, 5-3, before 29,248 at Marlins Park.

"This was a total team effort," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We got big hits and that home run by Hanley was huge."

Nationals starter Edwin Jackson went through the Marlins' lineup once unscathed, but that all changed when Miami got a second look at the right-hander in the bottom of the third.

Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano and shortstop Jose Reyes opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Following an Emilio Bonifacio sacrifice bunt, Carlos Lee singled to center to drive in both runners and tie the game at 2.

"Carlos Lee, for me, is one of the best guys I've ever seen with runners in scoring position," Zambrano said. "That's why he is here."

Two batters later, Ramirez broke the stalemate when he crushed a two-run homer off the base of the home run sculpture in left-center field. Ramirez was two for his last 26 heading into the at-bat.

"I've been feeling good at home plate," Ramirez said. "That's what you want to feel, comfortable. Everything else, you can't control."

The Marlins added an insurance run in the seventh thanks to a suicide squeeze from Bonifacio. The bunt allowed Justin Ruggiano, who doubled to open the inning, to score and give Miami a two-run advantage.

"We had the best guys to execute that play," Guillen said. "Boni is one of the best bunters, and Ruggiano is a pretty good baseball player who knows how to play the game. That's why we did it."

Danny Espinosa and Ryan Zimmerman led the Nationals' offense against Zambrano. Both players finished one hit shy of the cycle, with Espinosa needing a home run and Zimmerman missing a triple.

Zimmerman homered in the third to give the Nats a 2-0 lead, and after the Marlins' four-run inning, Washington cut its deficit to one in the sixth. But after Espinosa doubled and Roger Bernadina walked to load the bases, Zambrano got Jesus Flores to ground into a double play.

"I think I made some good pitches to good hitters," Zambrano said. "With Zimmerman, I threw a sinker middle in and the ball sunk good, but he's a good hitter and he crushed it. The most important thing is we won the game today and we split against the Nationals."

Washington had at least one player reach base in each of Zambrano's six innings, but the right-hander held the Nationals to three runs on eight hits. Zambrano benefited from inducing four double plays to earn his first win since June 3.

"I think the defense helped Carlos a lot today," Guillen said. "We turned some big double plays early in the game. We needed the defense to step it up and help the pitchers, and we did that today."

Nationals manager Davey Johnson saw his team put 17 runners on base while only scoring three runs. Washington had 12 players reach against Zambrano, but the Marlins' defense executed and the Nationals were never able to capitalize on multiple threats.

"The other guy got some good breaks," Johnson said. "Balls hit hard right at people. I thought he was very fortunate."

After a shaky seventh inning in which the Marlins used three pitchers, Heath Bell threw a nearly flawless eighth and Mike Dunn worked around a two-out rally in the ninth to record his first career save.

"I think the last couple of days have been hard on the bullpen," Guillen said. "We've got guys like [Steve] Cishek, who was sick. We didn't have many guys left, and thanks to [Ryan] Webb and [Randy] Choate, I had to use two guys in an inning and then pinch-hit. That made the bullpen a little thinner."

Several Marlins viewed Monday's victory as a complete win, with contributions coming from several players. Ramirez feels that is the kind of baseball the Marlins should be playing more often.

"We played good as a team," Ramirez said. "We did a lot of things that we have been expecting to do since the beginning of the year. I think Carlos Lee was big for us with runners in scoring position. Bonifacio and Reyes stepped up, and the bullpen too. Everything was there. At the end of the day, it's about that 'W.' That's why we're here and it feels good to get one today."

David Villavicencio is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.