After the Washington Nationals’ 11-2 humbling at the hands of the Atlanta Braves, Ryan Zimmerman promised a better effort from the club on Tuesday. Then Zimmerman went out and backed up that promise.

Despite Zimmerman’s tremendous effort, a lack of clutch hitting and a tenth inning error by Jayson Werth allowed the Marlins to win 3-2 on a walk-off hit by Donnie Murphy.

In the third inning, Florida starter Anibal Sanchez threw Zimmerman a 1-0 fast ball that the third baseman rocketed over the left field wall to put the Nationals up 2-1.

Washington was able to maintain that lead until pinch hitter Greg Dobbs drove in Donnie Murphy on sac fly given up by Tyler Clippard. The earned run went to Jason Marquis, who surrendered a double to Murphy to lead off the seventh inning.

Marquis pitched well enough to win, giving up two earned runs in 6.1 innings of work. The good start has to feel good for Marquis, who struggled in 2010 with injuries. Marquis lived in the bottom of the strike zone, getting the Marlins to ground out all night long.

The Nats continue to wear out opposing starting pitchers with patience. Sanchez threw 105 pitches in only 5.2 of work, but surrendered only two earned runs.

The Nationals stranded 12 on Tuesday night, a problem they’ve had all season. It could be the product of the Nationals unusual lineup. If the mediocrity with runners on base continues to be a problem, Jim Riggleman has to move Jayson Werth to the third slot in the order.

It would certainly give Werth more RBI opportunities than he is getting now. Nationals’ lead-off hitters have reached base just once in four games; that’s not how you win games.

Speaking of the lead-off spot, it was revealed Tuesday that Danny Espinosa would take over for Ian Desmond at the top of the order. Desmond will move down to seventh. Credit has to go to Riggleman for making this move as soon as he did and not being stubborn.


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