MIAMI (AP) -- The Washington Nationals headed home for the final
series of the season guaranteed of at least a .500 record.
Preston Wilson homered and had five RBI and Nick Johnson added
a home run and four RBI to help the Nationals beat the Florida
Marlins 11-7 on Wednesday night and sweep the three-game series."They did not want a lot of the good things that they have done
this year slip away," said Washington manager Frank Robinson,
whose team had a share of first place in the NL East as late as
July 25."They were on a mission. They had the mind-set to come in here
and win three ballgames -- it was probably the first time in the
year we were thinking about sweeping a series before we played the
first game. And we got it done."Miguel Cabrera had three hits, including his 33rd homer, and
four RBI for the Marlins, who lost their season-high sixth
straight, eighth of nine and 12th in 14. Rookie Jeremy Hermida also
had three hits, including his second home run.Esteban Loaiza (12-10) allowed six runs and 10 hits in six
innings. His streak of 33 2/3 innings without issuing a walk --
covering five starts -- ended with a base on balls to Cabrera with
two outs in the fifth."We have four more days together as a team," Loaiza said,
"and then I'll be sitting at home looking at the playoff games --
and we should be there."Brian Moehler (6-12) allowed seven runs and six hits in 3 1/3
innings. He has lost six straight decisions and hasn't won since
July 20."I think over the last part of the year he wasn't as sharp; he
may have been tired," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said of Moehler.
"Most of the time he has pretty good control. He has shown that he
can be a good fifth starter."The victory left Washington at 81-78 and enabled the team to
reach 40 road wins for the seventh time in the franchise's 37
seasons. Washington will host Philadelphia this weekend."I guess it was important to finish .500 or better, but we
still came up short (of the playoffs)," Johnson said. "That's
disappointing."The Montreal Expos, who became the Nationals, finished above
.500 only twice in the last eight seasons.Eleven Nationals batted in a seven-run fourth that built a 9-2
lead. Marlon Byrd's run-scoring double, Gary Bennett's RBI single,
Johnson's two-run single and Wilson's three-run homer accounted for
the runs.Every National in the starting lineup except the pitcher scored
at least once. Wilson, Johnson and Jamey Carroll each had three of
Washington's 15 hits, with Wilson and Johnson each falling a triple
shy of the cycle."You don't get too many chances at a cycle, so it's definitely
something that you think about," Wilson said.Cabrera had a run-scoring single in the first, a two-run single
in the third and a leadoff homer in the seventh.Pinch-hitter Lenny Harris and Chris Aguila had RBI singles in
the sixth for Florida.
Rain pushed back the game's start 12 minutes to 7:17 p.m.
There also was a 14-minute rain delay in the top of the sixth. ...
Washington outscored Florida 26-8 in the series. ... Heading into
the season's final series against Atlanta, the Marlins (80-79) have
not been at .500 since July 22.