Marlins ride Mike Stanton, bullpen past Nationals

WASHINGTON -- After capping a three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals with a 5-2 win Thursday, the Florida Marlins were probably sorry to be leaving town.

Especially slugger Mike Stanton.

"(The Nationals) ought to trade for him," Marlins manager Jack McKeon joked. "They'd have to give up the Lincoln Memorial."

Stanton homered for the second consecutive game and five Marlins relievers held the Nationals to one run over 5 1/3 innings as Florida won its fifth straight and improved to 14-5 since July 5.

The homer was Stanton's 24th of the season and fourth in his last six games. He has eight home runs and 14 RBIs in 12 career games at Nationals Park dating to 2010.

"I don't know. There's a good backdrop," Stanton said when asked for a reason.

Brian Sanches (4-1), the second Marlins reliever, pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the win.

"We're playing good baseball now," McKeon said after his team improved to 52-53. "That's the closest we've been in a long time. But that's our goal, get to .500 and then hopefully we'll roll."

Florida pulled rookie left-hander Brad Hand, who was recalled from Double-A Jacksonville for Thursday's start, after 3 2/3 innings. He allowed one run on three hits but walked six batters, one intentionally.

"You can't give up baserunners like that," Hand said. "A few of those guys I was missing just outside. I was trying to get ahead in the count and probably pitching too fine."

Jayson Werth had a pair of RBI singles for the Nationals, who have lost five straight and eight of 11. Washington is 9-17 under manager Davey Johnson.

"The last couple nights, I think we just lost focus a little bit, and we need to get back on track," Werth said.

John Lannan (7-7) gave up four runs on five hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings for Washington.

"That's not typical of John Lannan," Johnson said. "I thought he had good stuff -- and he did. But he was just all over the place."

The Marlins led 2-1 when Stanton led off the sixth inning against Lannan and homered to center on a 2-2 pitch. Later in the inning, Emilio Bonifacio singled in a run off Nationals reliever Sean Burnett.

Bonifacio extended his hitting streak to 26 games, the second-longest in club history.

"The kid's got confidence because he knows he's going to play every day," McKeon said. "Before, he was in and out of the lineup. When I got there I said, 'You're going to play every day, you're my leadoff guy and here's what I want you to do.' And he's having fun doing it.

"He's really a great kid and he wants to learn," McKeon added. "He loves to play and he's very unselfish. I think everybody on the club's rooting for him."

The Marlins took a 1-0 lead when Bonifacio led off the third inning with a walk and later scored on Logan Morrison's fielder's choice. It was Morrison's 26th RBI this month.

The Nationals tied it in the third. With one out, Danny Espinosa walked, Ryan Zimmerman singled and Michael Morse walked to load the bases. On a 3-0 pitch, Werth hit a blooper down the right-field line that fell just fair beyond the reach of three Marlins, scoring Espinosa.

Zimmerman finished with four hits, matching his career high, and is 13-for-27 in his last six games.

The Marlins went ahead 2-1 in the fourth when Hand laid down a sacrifice bunt with Brett Hayes on first and Mike Cameron on third. Cameron ran down the third-base line part of the way on contact, scoring when Lannan fielded the bunt and threw to first without looking Cameron back.

"I should've looked, but when I have two guys screaming at me, 'Throw one,' I'm going to throw it to first," Lannan said.

McKeon was pleased with Cameron's baserunning.

"That was a smart play by Mike right there when (Lannan) didn't check him," the manager said. "That's good instinct."

Game notes
Washington right-hander Chien-Ming Wang will start Friday against the New York Mets, his first major league start since July 4, 2009. Wang, who has been recovering from his 2009 shoulder surgery, will be activated from the disabled list. His career record is 55-26 with a 4.16 ERA in 109 games. Johnson said Wang will be limited to 80-90 pitches. ... Johnson said fifth starter Tom Gorzelanny, whose regular turn would have been Friday, is now the probable starter for Monday's game against the Atlanta Braves. ... Florida first baseman Gaby Sanchez sat for the third straight game with a tight left hamstring. ... To make room on the roster for Hand, Florida optioned right-hander Jose Ceda to Triple-A New Orleans. ... In 2002, Luis Castillo set the Marlins record with a 35-game hitting streak. ... Jonny Gomes batted sixth and played left field in his first action for the Nationals. He went 0-for-3 and was hit by a pitch.

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