Gio Gonzalez figured he was going to have plenty of support from friends and family in his first game in his hometown.
"I got a few text messages from friends saying I-95 was jam-packed," Gonzalez said. "I was just smiling about it knowing I was getting that type of support."
Gonzalez, who's from nearby Hialeah, pitched well for the Washington Nationals on Saturday night, yet wound up with a 2-1 loss to the Miami Marlins.
The All-Star struck out nine in six innings while allowing two runs.
"It's shame. Gio pitched a heck of a ballgame," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "We had many opportunities. We just couldn't get it done."
Despite the excitement, Gonzalez (12-4) remained composed and did not walk a batter.
"It was great being in front of family and friends," Gonzalez said. "My parents were right behind home plate. The excitement was one of those things you dream about."
Mark Buehrle (9-8) provided a strong outing for the Marlins, allowing one run in seven innings against the NL East leaders.
"It was a must-win game against the team we are chasing," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said.
The Marlins are nine games out of first place.
"Going up against this team and Gio with the way he's been throwing the ball all year, you've got to be on top of your game," Buehrle said.
Buehrle won his fourth consecutive start, giving up six hits and striking out seven.
"I'm still scratching my own head to try to figure out what I'm doing striking all these guys out because it's a lot of guys," Buehrle said. "I try to shoot for 100 every year just to get to triple digits, but it seems like I'm getting there faster than I usually do."
Carlos Lee and John Buck drove in the runs for Miami, which snapped a three-game losing streak.
Steve Cishek pitched the final 1 2-3 innings to earn his second save and first since May 25 against San Francisco. It was the first save opportunity for the Marlins after Guillen announced Heath Bell had been removed from the closer role.
Cishek allowed a two-out single to Roger Bernadina in the ninth. After Bernadina stole second, Jesus Flores struck out to end the game.
"I got ahead with two strikes and I left him a pitch in the middle that he fouled off," Cishek said. "I didn't want to make that mistake again. It would have been crucial. I really tried to get that slider out there and he chased it."
Gonzalez retired the first nine batters — five on strikeouts — before Jose Reyes singled up the middle to lead off the fourth. Omar Infante sacrificed and Reyes scored on a single by the recently acquired Lee. It was Lee's first RBI with the Marlins in six games.
"Old-fashioned National League ball. They bunt the guy over and then their guys delivered a hit," Johnson said. "That's what wins ballgames."
The Nationals tied it at 1 thanks to some good fortune on the basepaths. Buehrle got Ian Desmond leaning off first base and when his pickoff throw went to Lee, Desmond was on his way down to second. Lee's throw hit Desmond in the back and he reached safely.
Two batters later Flores hit a bloop single to score Desmond. Ryan Zimmerman eventually came to bat with the bases loaded, but Buehrle struck him out swinging to get out of the jam.
Buck's RBI single in the fifth gave the Marlins a 2-1 lead.
Buehrle got out of another jam in the seventh as he struck out Roger Espinosa to leave a runner stranded at third.
NOTES: Flores went 2 for 3 after hitting a two-run single on Friday. He had been hitless in his final 16 at-bats before the All-Star break. ... Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg (9-4, 2.82 ERA) will start Sunday against RHP Ricky Nolasco (8-6, 4.35 ERA). Strasburg will try to snap his three-game losing streak.