Willingham's four-hit night lifts Marlins over Nats

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Young and carefree, the Florida Marlins don't
let setbacks bother them.

They simply deal with a problem and move on, much as they did
after starting the season 20 games under .500.

Their starting pitcher walks the first three batters of the
game? Hunker down and get out of the inning.

Their four-run lead vanishes in the bottom of the seventh? Get
right back on top in the eighth.

Those two examples came Thursday night, when Josh Willingham's
four hits included a homer, fellow rookie Dan Uggla added a two-run
shot and Florida beat the Washington Nationals 9-6.

Another rookie, shortstop Hanley Ramirez, made a leaping grab of
pinch-hitter Alex Escobar's liner up the middle with two runners on
for the final out.

"I'd almost say we don't know any better. It's just what's kind
of happened all year long," said Willingham, whose 17th homer made
it 3-0 in the fourth. "That's kind of what you get with a young
team, but we're always going to fight to the end regardless of the
score. That kind of sums up what we did tonight. They had their
momentum and we came back and took it from them."

The Marlins led 4-0 and 6-2, then allowed the Nationals to bat
around in a four-run seventh against relievers Sergio Mitre and
Brian Moehler (6-8) that tied the game. But Florida scored two in
the eighth off Ryan Wagner (0-1). Willingham led off with a single,
Miguel Olivo also singled and Wes Helms delivered a two-run double.

"We didn't wait around," Helms said.

The Marlins are the youngest club in the majors, and they've
used 21 rookies this season; six were in the starting lineup
Thursday. Before games, they seem to be a loose bunch, laughing
loudly as a dozen watch "Along Came Polly" on the clubhouse TV or
cracking each other up while stretching on the field. After
Thursday's win, Dontrelle Willis was trying to cajole clubhouse
visitors to talk about how impressive his teammates' late-game
poise was.

A loss to Tampa Bay on May 21 dropped them to 11-31, but since
then the Marlins have gone 42-30, a .583 winning percentage that
has them in third place in the NL East, ahead of perennial division
champion Atlanta.

Yet another rookie, Anibal Sanchez -- like Ramirez, part of the
trade that sent Josh Beckett to the Red Sox -- limited Washington to
two runs on five hits, although he walked the first three batters
he faced. A popup and 5-4-3 double play got him out of the first
inning, drawing boos from the crowd of 21,304.

"To come away with nothing -- that's devastating, really,"
Nationals manager Frank Robinson said.

Alfonso Soriano hit his 36th homer, pausing to admire the shot,
in the fifth, and a sacrifice fly made it 4-2.

Florida tacked on two more runs in the seventh, though, when
reliever Travis Hughes hit pinch-hitter Cody Ross and gave up
Uggla's two-run homer, his 18th of the year. Hughes also threw a
wild pitch and plunked Miguel Cabrera on the left elbow.

Washington's big seventh began against Mitre, in his first
appearance since coming off the disabled list. He threw 12 pitches
-- all balls, going to a 3-0 count with three inside fastballs to
Soriano, before hitting him.

"That surprised me when they tried to hit me, but it's part of
the game," Soriano said.

Robinson was more upset, saying the umpire should have warned
Mitre after the first inside pitch.

"The thing about it is, they were allowed to take four shots at
him," Robinson said.

Marlins manager Joe Girardi said Mitre was simply trying to
throw inside, Florida's strategy against Soriano. Mitre, a starter
who went on the DL in May with inflammation in his pitching
shoulder, then walked Felipe Lopez and Ryan Zimmerman on four
pitches apiece.

He left, and Moehler gave up three run-scoring hits to make it
6-all. Despite all that, Moehler earned the win with his two
innings of work, and Joe Borowski pitched the ninth for his 24th

"They don't ever feel like they're out of a game or like they
can't come back and score more runs," Girardi said. "They just
have a ton of energy and this time of year it pays off a little

Game notes
The Nationals released OF Luis Matos and plan to recall RHP
Jason Bergmann from Triple-A New Orleans. ... In the third, Uggla
singled and Cabrera smacked a sinking liner to left. But Soriano
made a shoetop catch, then threw the ball to first to beat Uggla
back to the bag for a double play -- the ex-infielder's major
league-leading 19th outfield assist. "Every day, I get surprised
by my play in left field," Soriano said.