MIAMI – Edwin Jackson was a bit rusty in his first start after the All-Star break.
Jackson pitched five shaky innings and the Washington Nationals lost 5-3 to the Miami Marlins on Monday night, splitting the four-game series.
"He was missing down and he was missing wide," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "He had 11 days between starts and that's a long time. He kept us in there and the other guy got some good breaks. I thought he was very fortunate."
Jackson (5-5) allowed four runs — all in the third inning — and six hits in his first start since he got the win July 4 against San Francisco. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts against the Marlins this season, both in Miami.
"I'm not one to make excuses; you have to get the job done," he said. "I couldn't get into a rhythm — balls wide, balls up, balls down. When I did throw strikes, it was pretty much across the middle and they were able to hit them."
Carlos Lee hit a tying two-run single against Jackson and scored on Hanley Ramirez's 13th homer.
"The home run by Hanley was big," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It was huge to take that lead."
Ramirez had been hitting the ball hard all series with little to show for it.
"I think I have been hitting balls hard just right to people, it's nothing I can control," Ramirez said. "At the end of the day, it's that 'W.' It's why we are here."
Emilio Bonifacio executed a successful squeeze bunt to drive in the other run in the seventh.
Carlos Zambrano (5-7) allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings for Miami. The right-hander was 0-4 with an 8.00 ERA in his previous six starts.
"That's the way we're supposed to play and know how to play," Zambrano said. "The game today was outstanding."
Heath Bell pitched a scoreless eighth, and Mike Dunn finished for his first career save. Dunn allowed a two-out single to Bryce Harper and walked Ryan Zimmerman before striking out Adam LaRoche to end the game.
"Dunn has closing stuff," Guillen said. "He throws 95 (mph), has a pretty good slider, and throws strikes."
Zimmerman reached base five times and was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle, while Danny Espinosa needed a homer to accomplish the feat.
"To come down and go 2-2 with a team that's given us a lot of trouble in the past, we would have liked to take three of four, but 2-and-2 is not bad," Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman hit a solo drive in the third for his 10th homer, giving the Nationals a 2-0 lead. It was Zimmerman's second homer of the series and No. 16 for his career against the Marlins, his most against any club.
Zimmerman led off the sixth with a double and scored on Michael Morse's single to trim Miami's lead to 4-3. After Zambrano walked Roger Bernadina to load the bases, Jesus Flores bounced into an inning-ending double play. It was the fourth inning-ending double play turned by the Marlins, which tied a season high.
"We hit a bunch of balls right at them," Johnson said. "They doubled us up a couple of times in huge situations. Maybe a little bit of aggressive baserunning in a couple of those line drives."
The Nationals had two runners on base in the seventh, but Randy Choate struck out LaRoche to end the threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, Justin Ruggiano doubled and scored on a squeeze by Bonifacio.
"I've got the best guys to execute that play," Guillen said. "We've got Bonny who is one of the best bunters and Ruggiano is a pretty good baseball player. He's got a good idea how to play the game and that's why we did it."
NOTES: The Guillen-Harper situation from Sunday's game in which the manager had words for the All-Star outfielder, who pointed a bat at Guillen for disputing the amount of pine tar he had on his bat, continued to be discussed before Monday's game. Guillen spoke briefly to Johnson on Sunday, and Johnson felt Guillen was trying to intimidate Harper. "I just don't like any time an opposing manager talks to one of my players at the plate," Johnson said. Guillen denied trying to intimidate the 19-year-old slugger. "I never try to intimidate anybody," Guillen said. "That's the last thing that went through my mind. I just think it was unprofessional what (Harper) did, he was showing me up. I never showed him up. Every time I talk about this kid, I (praise) him. ... You think I'm going to intimidate him? I might intimidate Davey, but I'm not going to intimidate (Harper). He would kick my butt." Guillen added: "I like this kid, I think this kid is good for baseball, he's going to get better, but if he continued to do that (stuff), he might not make it." Harper said he puts pine tar high on his bat because "it looks cool." Harper went 1 for 4 and was 2 for 16 in the series. ... The Marlins will travel to Chicago to face the Cubs for a three-game series marking Guillen's first return to the city after managing the White Sox for eight seasons. RHP Anibal Sanchez (4-6, 4.12 ERA) will start for Miami and will face LHP Travis Wood (4-3, 3.05). ... The Nationals will host the Mets and will send LHP Ross Detwiler (4-3, 3.43) to the mound to oppose LHP Jonathon Niese (7-4, 3.73).