Nationals 9th-inning rally falls short in 7-5 loss

The Washington Nationals' offense didn't start rolling until the ninth inning against the Florida Marlins, and their late rally ended two runs short when Laynce Nix's deep fly ball settled into Mike Stanton's glove on the warning track.

Down six runs going into the bottom of the ninth, Washington scored four. Nix's deep shot with one man on and two outs appeared to have a chance to tie the game, but instead the Nationals fell to the Marlins 7-5 Wednesday night.

"I didn't quite get it all," said Nix, who had a home run earlier in the game. "I was begging for it to go, but it was just a hair short."

Washington lost for the fourth straight time, its longest skid in more than two months, and fell to 9-16 under manager Davey Johnson.

"I don't like to get beat," Johnson said. "It's something I don't like. I like to sleep good at night, and I don't sleep as good when we lose. I know these guys are capable of a lot more and I know it's coming."

Marlins starter Javier Vazquez (7-9) pitched seven strong innings and Emilio Bonifacio extended his hitting streak to 25 games as Florida appeared to have the game well in control after Mike Cameron hit his second home run in the ninth inning off Drew Storen to give the Marlins a 7-1 lead.

The Nationals' only run through the first eight innings came on Nix's long home run to right field — his 14th — leading off the bottom of the fourth, which cut the lead to 3-1.

Washington rallied off Steve Cishek in the ninth. Pinch-hitter Ian Desmond led off with a triple, and Cishek retired the next two batters before giving up a run-scoring single to Jerry Hairston, a walk to Alex Cora and an RBI-double to Ryan Zimmerman.

Cishek gave way to Leo Nunez, who allowed a two-run single to Michael Morse before getting Nix to fly to deep right for his 28th save in 31 chances.

"Little scary at the end," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said.

Vazquez allowed one run and six hits in seven innings. It was the fifth time this season he's gone seven. He struck out four and walked three.

Bonifacio singled off Ryan Mattheus in the eighth, tying the second-longest hit streak in club history. Cameron hit home runs in the eighth and ninth innings and drove in three.

John Buck gave Florida a 3-0 lead when he hit a bases-loaded single in the fourth off Livan Hernandez (5-10).

Hernandez was pulled after the first two batters of the fifth reached. It was the third time in his last seven starts he failed to make it through five innings.

Mike Stanton's homer — his seventh in 11 games in Washington and 23rd of the season — put the Marlins ahead 1-0 in the second. Hanley Ramirez drove in Florida's fourth run in the fifth on an RBI double.

Cameron's homers gave Florida 13 in the last five games. The Marlins have hit multiple home runs in five straight games for just the second time in franchise history.

"We're frustrated, but we're also battling," Storen said. "It would be easy to just roll over and feel sorry for ourselves and go home, but we're battling and we'll be out there every day playing hard."

The Nationals will try to avoid the series sweep Thursday afternoon.

"We like the team we have," Zimmerman said. "And if we win three or four in a row we're right back where we need to be."

NOTES: To make room for OF Jonny Gomes, acquired Tuesday from Cincinnati, the Nationals designated 43-year-old Matt Stairs for assignment. The all-time leader in pinch-hit home runs with 23, Stairs was just 6 for 39 as a pinch hitter this season without a homer. ... The Marlins will recall LHP Brad Hand from Double-A Jacksonville to start Thursday afternoon's game. Hand is 9-3 with a 3.81 ERA with Jacksonville, and 1-3 with a 2.77 ERA in five starts with Florida earlier this season. Florida optioned RHP Jose Ceda to Triple-A New Orleans. ... McKeon said he hoped that RHP Josh Johnson (right shoulder) would pitch again this season despite reports that he was being shut down. Johnson hasn't pitched since May 16. ... Morse hit in his 10th straight game. ... Bryce Harper, last year's No. 1 draft choice, hit his first home run since joining Washington's Double-A affiliate in Harrisburg earlier this month. ... Florida 1B Gaby Sanchez sat for the second straight game with a tight left hamstring.