Anibal Sanchez dominates Nationals, leading Marlins to 4-1 victory

Anibal Sanchez says the opponent doesn't matter.

Still, the right-hander allowed four hits in 7 2-3 innings to lead the Florida Marlins over Washington 4-1 Saturday, a victory that improved Sanchez to 5-0 against the Nationals.

"I tried to make them swing at my pitches," Sanchez said. "I threw everything at every hitter."

Sanchez (12-9) gave up one run, struck out four and walked none. He has a 2.29 career ERA in 13 starts against the Nationals, going 2-0 this year. Wilson Ramos' RBI double in the eighth was the first earned run Sanchez allowed against Washington in 23 1-3 innings.

Sanchez was coming off of his worst performance of the season, giving up seven runs and seven hits in four innings at Philadelphia on Monday. He quickly showed he was back in form against the Nationals. Sanchez didn't allow a runner until Michael Morse's double in the fifth inning.

"You can tell with Anibal by the third inning if his breaking ball is working and around the plate — he's going to have a good game," Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "Whenever he's throwing his secondary pitches for strikes, chances are he's going to have a good game."

Washington (60-82) dropped a season-high 22 games under .500 and clinched a fifth straight losing season after yet again failing to make a dent against Sanchez.

"He's been good every time we've seen him," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "We're going to have to figure something out on him."

Emilio Bonifacio gave Sanchez all the offense he needed with a two-run single in the fifth inning. Logan Morrison added an RBI single in the eighth inning to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. It was the 31st straight game he's reached base safely, the longest active streak in the majors.

"I'm sure since you just told me that I'm not going to get on base tomorrow," Morrison joked with a reporter after the game. "I don't think about it. I have no idea."

Clay Hensley pitched the ninth inning for his second save in five chances

Jason Marquis (2-8) also had a strong start, but couldn't match Sanchez. Marquis, who had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow in May and was on the disabled list for 3½ months, gave up two runs and five hits in six innings. He struck out eight — his highest total since Sept. 1, 2008 — and walked one.

"Today was probably the best I've felt since the surgery," Marquis said. "I had good bite on my slider. It was the first time all year I really had a good feel for it."

Neither pitcher allowed a hit through the first four innings, and the only runner to reach was Morrison on first baseman Adam Dunn's fielding error in the first inning.

Chad Tracy led off the fifth inning with a grounder up the middle. Mike Stanton followed with another single and Marquis walked Cameron Maybin to load the bases with no outs. After a pair of strikeouts, Bonifacio singled to center on a 3-2 pitch.

Morrison nearly added another run for the Marlins, but Nationals rookie second baseman Danny Espinosa made a diving stop and threw out Morrison by a step to end the inning.

Dunn's second error, on Brad Davis' ninth-inning grounder, scored an unearned run. Maybin led off with a triple.

NOTES: Marlins RHP Jason Johnson, who missed Friday's scheduled start with shoulder and back problems, didn't throw in the bullpen on Saturday. Rodriguez said that if Johnson isn't able to throw on Sunday, he'll likely miss his next turn Wednesday against Philadelphia. If Johnson is unable to pitch, Florida would use several relievers Wednesday. ... Nationals reliever Collin Balester got his legs tangled up and fell to the ground during a pickoff attempt to second base, without throwing the ball. No balk was called. "That was the weirdest thing that ever happened to me," Balester said. "I looked at the replay, and it just looked like moving parts. I didn't know what I was doing."