MIAMI -- Asked to explain Florida's baffling mastery of the Washington Nationals, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez offered the simplest explanation.
"We've been lucky," he said.Having Hanley Ramirez has helped a little bit, too.Ramirez extended his RBI streak to 10 games and scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning as the Marlins won 5-3 Wednesday and remained unbeaten against the Nationals this year.Cody Ross hit his 14th home run and added an RBI single in the eighth for Florida, 9-0 against Washington this season and 25-3 against the Nationals since September 2007. Ramirez hit a two-run double, making him the first shortstop in NL history with an RBI streak of double-digit games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau."You've just got to keep doing your thing," said Ramirez, batting .450 (19 for 40) with 24 RBIs since June 21. "Everything else is going to come."Josh Willingham was 2 for 4 with a two-run single for Washington, which stranded 13 runners."We had plenty of chances," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "I think, right now, our situational hitting flat out stinks."With the score 3-3 and the bases loaded in the Florida eighth, pinch-hitter Wes Helms' roller up the middle was snared by a diving Alberto Gonzalez, who flipped to Ronnie Belliard at second to force Dan Uggla. But Helms beat Belliard's throw, and Ramirez scored to give Florida the lead."I knew I was going to get there," Helms said.Dan Meyer (2-0), one of six Florida pitchers, got the win after working two-thirds of an inning. Leo Nunez pitched the ninth, getting his fourth save in seven chances.Julian Tavarez (3-6) faced two batters in the eighth, and both scored as the Nationals wasted a 3-2 lead."Everything goes right for them when we play them," Tavarez said.Florida starter Josh Johnson failed to get out of the fourth inning, his shortest appearance in 34 starts dating to June 23, 2007. Johnson yielded one run and five hits in 3 1/3 innings, with four walks and three strikeouts, and only 49 of his 89 pitches went for strikes."Somehow, I only gave up one run," Johnson said. "I don't like it, but I'll take it."Most oddly, Johnson couldn't get Washington's starter out.Jordan Zimmermann had the first two hits of his career for Washington -- the rookie was hitless in 19 at-bats coming in -- and drove in the Nationals' first run with a second-inning single off Johnson. Zimmermann allowed two runs and six hits in six innings.Washington took a 3-2 lead in the seventh on Willingham's single, before Ross tied it in Florida's half with a solo homer off Sean Burnett, a left-hander making his Nationals' debut. Washington acquired Burnett and Nyjer Morgan from Pittsburgh on Tuesday."Our bullpen gets in," Acta said, "and they just beat up on them."All three games in the series were affected by rain: Monday's start was pushed back 37 minutes, Tuesday's game ended two innings early, and play was halted for 19 minutes in Wednesday's seventh inning.Eventually, that will no longer be an issue for the Marlins.Final arrangements were completed early Wednesday on bonds that will help pay for a $515 million, 37,000-seat retractable-roof ballpark, set to open in 2012. Work crews started at the former Orange Bowl site hours later."It's time to get this building built," Marlins president David Samson said.
Johnson's ERA against the Nationals is 3.94 this season; against everyone else, it's 2.56. ... Burnett and Morgan arrived at the ballpark about 40 minutes before game time. ... Acta left the clubhouse about a half-hour before the first pitch and walked outside the stadium, signing autographs for about 100 kids. Thousands of campers filled the stadium, making up the majority of the crowd of 27,032.