September 18, 2014
Washington Nationals' Asdrubal Cabrera (3) slides safely into home plate as Miami Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (39) is late on the tag in the fourth inning of a baseball game in Miami, Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. Cabrera scored on a base hit by Kev
Alan Diaz

MIAMI (AP) Already the NL East champions, the Washington Nationals are now totally focused on another race.

Gio Gonzalez allowed two runs in seven innings, Bryce Harper had three hits, and the Nationals kept up their push for home-field advantage in the NL playoffs by beating the Miami Marlins 6-2 on Thursday night.

Kevin Frandsen and Anthony Rendon each had two hits for Washington (88-64), which opened the night 1-1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the race for the NL's best record.

''That's the way we play the game,'' Washington's Ian Desmond said. ''Why change now? I think it's kind of ingrained in our minds now the way that we're supposed to go out there and go about our business.''

A Miami native, Gonzalez (9-10) allowed six hits, striking out five and walking none.

Jeff Baker drove in one run and scored another for the Marlins (74-78), who opened their final homestand of the season. Miami needs seven wins in its last 10 games to finish with a non-losing record for the first time since 2009.

Brad Hand (3-8) gave up five earned runs and eight hits in five innings for Miami.

''With this team that we're playing, these guys are going to the playoffs, we've got to play perfect baseball,'' Miami manager Mike Redmond said. ''We can't give extra outs. We've got to take advantage and we've got to score runs when we can, and we weren't able to do that.''

Washington's streak of 22 road games with a home run was snapped. It was the second-longest streak in the majors since 1900; only the Baltimore Orioles in 1996 had a longer run, hitting at least one in 24 consecutive road games.

The Nationals hit 41 homers in their streak.

They didn't need any Thursday, taking control with a five-run fourth - doing all that scoring with two outs.

''We had a big inning and Gio pitched well, kept them at bay, bullpen came in and shut it down, and it was an all-around team effort,'' Nationals manager Matt Williams said. ''A good win for us.''

Wilson Ramos' double started the flurry by driving home Anthony Rendon to tie the game, and the Nationals were on their way. Frandsen had Washington's sixth and final hit of the inning, with Harper scoring on the play and Cabrera also crossing the plate after Reed Johnson's throwing error.

The Marlins got an emotional lift before the game when injured slugger Giancarlo Stanton - out for the season with facial fractures and other issues after being struck in the face by a fastball last week - visited the clubhouse.

It just didn't carry over to the field, and the Marlins lost for the sixth time in nine games.

''It was nice to see him and see that he's doing all right,'' Hand said of Stanton. ''But we've still got to come in here and get the job done.''

Johnson had an RBI double in the second for Miami, snapping a season-high streak of 26 2-3 scoreless innings by Washington starting pitchers.

''We have something going on that's just unbelievable,'' Gonzalez said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: 3B Ryan Zimmerman went 1 for 7 as the DH in a simulated game at the Nationals' training facility in Viera, Florida.

Marlins: RHP Jose Fernandez, out for the season because of elbow reconstruction surgery, might begin a light throwing regimen on Oct. 1. The Marlins are hoping to have their ace back by the All-Star break next season.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Doug Fister (14-6, 2.55) gets the ball Friday night in Miami, looking to set a career-best for victories in a season.

Marlins: RHP Tom Koehler (9-9, 3.71) starts against Washington on Friday. Koehler has a 2.49 ERA in 14 starts against the NL East this year.

SPAN'S GRAB

Nationals CF Denard Span made a great diving grab in the fourth inning, denying Baker of what could have been extra bases. ''Not hit very hard, but he's really good out there,'' Williams said.

K'S FOR CAPPS

Miami reliever Carter Capps recorded four outs, all by strikeout. He is the seventh Marlins pitcher to do that, according to STATS.

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