WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mike Jacobs is not about to play down the importance of the Florida Marlins' current status as NL East leaders.
Sure, it's awfully early in the season, as anyone in baseball will quickly point out, including the Washington Nationals, losers of six games in a row. Jacobs, though, thinks it's important to open the newspaper and see his team in first place, where it stayed after he hit two homers to back Scott Olsen's solid pitching in Florida's 10-4 victory over Washington on Wednesday night."It's big. When everybody writes you off from Day 1 and says, 'These guys can't play' and 'They're young,' 'Their payroll,' this and that," Jacobs said."To see the Marlins right there in first place, it's definitely a confidence booster," he added. "It lets everybody know we can play a little bit."Jacobs' pair of two-run shots give the first baseman four homers in the past five games, a surge that featured his first career game-ending homer Friday, his first career grand slam Saturday -- and now his first multihomer game since Aug. 24, 2005."A big night," said Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, whose team finished last in 2007 and is enjoying a 4-1 spurt to get to 5-3."These games count as much as the ones in June, July, August, September," Gonzalez had said before the game. "We're swinging it OK, and we're playing OK."The Nationals are doing neither at the moment, and they have gone from 3-0 to 3-6."We've played terrible the last six games," said Paul Lo Duca, who took a ball off his left thumb while catching in the seventh inning but pronounced himself OK. "There's no sugarcoating it. We've played terrible, and we need to play better."They've been having problems hitting in the clutch -- leaving the bases loaded nine times already in 2008 -- but they simply had problems hitting against Olsen (1-0). The left-hander went 7 2-3 innings, one out shy of tying his career high, and allowed four runs -- three earned -- on four hits and four walks."Outstanding," Gonzalez said.Nationals starter Jason Bergmann (0-1), in contrast, managed to fool Florida for four innings -- but that was it. The first pitch he threw in the fifth was deposited in the left-field stands by Jorge Cantu, tying the game at 1. And the Marlins were just getting started, sending 10 men to the plate in the inning.Dan Uggla and Jeremy Hermida -- coming off the disabled list for his first game of the season -- produced consecutive two-run doubles after Hanley Ramirez was walked intentionally to load the bases."I just fear Hanley Ramirez," Nationals manager Manny Acta said.Before Bergmann faced Jacobs, pitching coach Randy St. Claire came out of the dugout for a mound visit, but whatever the message was, it didn't work: Jacobs' homer made it 7-1.That brought out boos from the announced crowd of 23,340, an audience that was far smaller by the latter innings at 41,888-seat Nationals Park.Bergmann got Cantu on a groundout to end the inning, and was done for the night. The right-hander's ERA rose to 10.45 thanks to a five-inning, seven-run, nine-hit effort."I tried to do too much in that last inning, and it shouldn't be that way. These guys rely on us starters to go out there and give quality innings and it didn't happen," Bergmann said. "I'm usually a pretty happy guy before and after each game, and I'm livid right now."
Marlins RHP Burke Badenhop pitched the ninth, his major league debut. He will start Sunday at Houston. ... SS Cristian Guzman, who homered off Olsen, leads Washington in hits (14) and RBIs (six). ... Nationals closer Chad Cordero (15-day DL, shoulder tendinitis) made a rehab appearance at Class-A Potomac, allowing a hit and striking out a batter in one scoreless inning. ... Washington C Johnny Estrada, activated off the disabled list, struck out as a pinch hitter.