Washington Nationals' Joe Ross delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins, Saturday, May 21, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee
May 22, 2016

MIAMI (AP) With the bases loaded and none out in the ninth inning, the Washington Nationals needed one run to tie the score, and pinch hitter Jayson Werth hit the ball in the worst possible place.

Werth's grounder up the third-base line was backhanded by Martin Prado, who stepped on the bag and threw home for a double play. That deflated the Nationals' comeback bid, and they lost 3-2 to the Miami Marlins on Saturday night.

''There's nothing to talk about,'' Werth said.

''We just came up short,'' manager Dusty Baker said.

The Nationals trailed 3-1 before their first four batters reached in the ninth against closer A.J. Ramos. Pinch hitter Wilson Ramos singled home a run, and Anthony Rendon walked to load the bases, which brought Werth to the plate.

''You're getting your hopes up with getting four guys on in a row,'' Nationals starting pitcher Joe Ross said. ''And then it's probably the most unlucky play we could have had, other than a triple play to end the game.''

Jose Fernandez (6-2) allowed one run in six innings to beat the NL East leaders for the third time in three starts this year. He's 6-0 lifetime against them, and 21-1 at Marlins Park.

MLB batting leader Daniel Murphy's description of one at-bat against Fernandez that ended in a strikeout: ''He chewed me up and spit me out.''

Miami's Ichiro Suzuki hiked his average to .373 with three singles and a double - the first four-hit game for the 42-year-old outfielder since August.

''I've seen that for years, and you know it's still in there,'' Baker said. ''Ichiro is one of the best players that has ever played this game. He has that magic wand, and he has had it for a long time.''

Justin Bour hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the sixth, and Marcell Ozuna contributed a single, double and triple for Miami. But slumping Giancarlo Stanton struck out in all three at-bats, and is 0 for 17 with 15 strikeouts in the past five games.

Ross (3-4), pitching on his 23rd birthday, lost to Fernandez for the second start in a row. Ross went 5 2/3 innings and allowed three runs, including Bour's homer.

''It was just a poorly located change-up,'' Ross said. ''Definitely low, and in especially for lefties, it's usually their happy zone.''

The Nationals struck out 13 times. Regulars Werth, Ramos and Ryan Zimmerman were out of the starting lineup, although all came off the bench.


The Marlins' $325 million cleanup hitter went without the protective mask he has worn against right-handed pitchers since a fastball to the face ended his 2014 season. Miami manager Don Mattingly said he saw progress, even though Stanton failed to put a ball in play.

''To me he was better,'' Mattingly said. ''There was a difference in some of those at-bats. This is obviously a little bit extended, but you don't run from your guys. He's going to come out of it.''

A 4-for-48 slump with 26 strikeouts has dropped Stanton's average to .210.


Fernandez benefited from strike-them-out, throw-them-out double plays in each of the first two innings, with the Nationals twice being caught stealing. Baserunner Ben Revere was ruled out on the first double play when Chris Heisey was called for batter's interference.


Nationals: RHP Matt Belisle (calf strain) is scheduled to begin a rehabilitation assignment Monday.


RHP Max Scherzer (4-3, 4.01) is scheduled to start the series finale Sunday for Washington against LHP Adam Conley (3-2, 3.40).

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