Behind a strong outing from starting pitcher Craig Stammen the Nationals were able to grab a 2-1 lead at the end of the sixth. It was short-lived.
Jorge Cantu, who had been held hitless in his previous 19 at bats, launched a one-out homer to deep left centerfield to tie the game at two-two. Enter Brian Bruney in the eighth and the wheels fell off as the one-time closer hopeful simply could not throw strikes. The hard throwing righty put runners on base who eventually scored off of a single and a sac-fly to give the Marlins a final 4-2 lead.
Stammen rendered no decision despite pitching 6.2 innings of dominating baseball. The Marlins only mustered four hits and drew no walks while scoring one earned run (a homer), and one unearned. Stammen also struck out eight batters, a career-high for the 26-year-old. He was succesful by keeping Marlins batters off balance with a strong slider/curveball combination.
Ryan Zimmerman went 2-4 on the night as the club only managed to muster two runs on six hits and two walks. Ivan Rodriguez went 0-4 for the first time of the season tonight in the Nationals loss.
“After a thrilling come-from-behind win last night, the Washington Nationals opened up their three-game set with the Florida Marlins in the loss column, defeated 4-2, before 20,161 at Nationals Park.

“Despite a solid night by Washington starter Craig Stammen, his bullpen mates could not hold off their opponents. With the score tied at two in the eighth inning, Brian Bruney – who had come into the game in relief of Stammen in the seventh – continued a string of erratic and uneven performances.”

“With the game tied at two at the start of the seventh inning, the Nationals gave the ball to Brian Bruney, who they acquired as a setup man and possible closer in the offseason but whose control problems have bumped him several rungs down the bullpen hierarchy. Bruney did what he’s done too many times this year; walk hitters.

“His three walks, plus two hits, in 1 1/3 innings led to the Marlins taking the lead for good and the Nationals falling back within a game of .500.”

Washington Nationals lose late to Florida Marlins as Brian Bruney Struggles – Adam Kilgore, Washington Post

“Stammen was on a roll, until he wasn’t. He hung a 1-2 curveball to Jorge Cantu, a pitch Stammen chose because he had struck out Cantu swinging at one earlier. Even as Cantu swung, Stammen pounded his thighs with his fists. He knew. Cantu unloaded and crunched a home run over the left-center field wall. Stammen didn’t survive the inning after a triple by Cody Ross.”

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