MIAMI -- The Marlins still can't seem to solve Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who continued his mastery of Miami on Sunday in handing the Marlins a 5-2 loss and a series sweep at Marlins Park.It's not the way the Marlins wanted to finish a three-game homestand before embarking on an
MIAMI -- The Marlins still can't seem to solve Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who continued his mastery of Miami on Sunday in handing the Marlins a 5-2 loss and a series sweep at Marlins Park.
It's not the way the Marlins wanted to finish a three-game homestand before embarking on an 11-day, 10-game road trip that begins Monday in San Diego.
Strasburg tossed five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts to pick up his sixth win. The lanky right-hander improved to 16-7 with a 3.04 ERA over 29 career starts against Miami, and extended his scoreless innings streak to 23 versus the National League rival.
"We got [Strasburg's] pitch count up pretty decent early in the game. I mean, it wasn't just 10-pitch innings or anything like that," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "So I think that part was good from the standpoint of the battle, but we just didn't break through."
The Marlins stranded nine baserunners in the loss and 26 total over the weekend series.
Elieser Hernandez allowed two runs on six hits with three strikeouts over five innings in his third Major League start.
"I felt fine. I was getting my pitches there in the beginning, but then I kind of lost myself toward the end," said Hernandez, who shut out the Nationals through three innings before giving up a solo homer to Anthony Rendon in the fourth. "I just made some mistakes out there today, and it cost me."
Mattingly said he has seen more positives than negatives from Hernandez, whose ERA increased from 2.08 to 2.50.
"Really sharp early, but I thought there in the fourth it seemed like he got behind in a lot of counts," Mattingly said. "I think that's one of the things that's been impressive, is he's been able to stay ahead in the count. But he bounces back. He keeps coming, keeps throwing strikes, keeps making you earn what you get, and that's what we've liked about him."
The loss also gave the Marlins 11 in a row against the Nationals, dating back to Aug. 9, 2017.
"They're a good club, so you're going to have to fight for your wins all the time," Mattingly said. "I didn't really know it was 11 in row. I know we had our struggles late in the year last year. That starting rotation has been there and really stable. Every day, it's been a different challenge. Max [Scherzer] was a challenge, [Tanner] Roark and Strasburg another challenge.
"We faced three guys this series that are a pretty good little matchup for us and a pretty good measuring stick of where we're at. Obviously, we weren't able to put up a lot of runs this series, but we threw the ball pretty well for the most part. We just kind of got to break through where we can get four or five [runs] and put more pressure on [opposing pitchers]."
The Marlins got on the board in the seventh on an RBI double by J.T. Realmuto, but by then Washington had built a 5-0 lead. Justin Bour delivered a solo homer -- his team-leading 10th of the season -- to straightaway center in the eighth inning. Bour also singled in his first at-bat, which snapped an 0-for-11 skid for the slugging first baseman.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Marlins had runners on first and second with one out in the second inning after Bour led off with a single and Miguel Rojas was hit by a pitch, but Strasburg struck out JT Riddle and Lewis Brinson to end the threat.
In the fifth, Brinson hit a leadoff single and Realmuto walked with two outs, but Strasburg then struck out Starlin Castro for the third consecutive time on his 103rd pitch of the game.
"Kind of the theme of the series in general," Mattingly said of the Marlins' inability to capitalize on scoring opportunities. "I think we had competitive at-bats again today, but we just never really got anything going."
HE SAID IT
"Our starting pitching has kept us in these games and given us chances to win. We just haven't been able to break through and get the wins we need." -- Mattingly, on being swept at home
Caleb Smith gets the call on Monday against the Padres in the opener of a 10-game trip. Smith bounced back nicely following a rough three-inning outing against the Dodgers by registering eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 frames on the road against the Mets in his last start. He has a 4.18 ERA and .179 batting average against in five road starts. The Padres will counter with lefty Eric Lauer in the 4:10 p.m. ET start.
Steve Dorsey is a contributor to MLB.com based in Miami.