Slumping Nats lose to Marlins 7-4

The Washington Nationals aren't hitting or scoring or holding leads.

As a result, they're 1-4.

Livan Hernandez took a four-run cushion into the fifth inning Wednesday but couldn't protect it, and the Florida Marlins rallied for the second night in a row to beat Washington, 7-4.

"The season is just starting," Hernandez said. "You don't make the playoffs in four or five games."

Florida's John Buck, who hit a grand slam on opening day, missed another by inches when the ball landed on the top of the wall and caromed back onto the field. He settled for a two-out, three-run triple that tied the game in the fifth.

"I thought it was a home run," Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "But it was good enough."

Washington's Ian Desmond, who entered the game 0 for 13, had four hits and two RBIs. But the Nationals, who began the night batting .121 (4 for 33) with runners in scoring position, went only 2 for 10 in those situations.

"We just have to keep putting them out there and finish it off," manager Jim Riggleman said. "With the energy and attitude on the bench, it pains them to have that happen the last couple nights."

The Nationals have an overall average of .209, and they've scored only 14 runs. Michael Morse is batting .118, Rick Ankiel is batting .133 and Adam LaRoche is batting .158.

"The losses all sting the same, but they're obviously harder when you beat yourself," LaRoche said.

Ryan Zimmerman struck out with two on to end the game against Leo Nunez, who converted his first save chance. Brian Sanches (1-0) pitched a perfect sixth.

The Marlins made several offseason moves to upgrade a shaky bullpen, and in the first two games of the series, Florida relievers have shut out Washington on three hits over 8 1-3 innings. Josh Johnson, who has a career record of 7-0 against Washington, is scheduled to start Thursday when Florida tries for a sweep.

The Nationals' frustration level is already high. As reliever Todd Coffey left the game, he argued with plate umpire Todd Tschida and was tossed out.

Coffey then threw his glove and went face to face with Tschida.

"The situation dictates that I've got to be more composed and stay within myself and help the team," Coffey said, "and I didn't."

Ball-strike calls also vexed Hernandez.

"I think it was a little tough," he said. "I threw some balls for strikes and they didn't call them. You fight with the umpire, you lose."

Hernandez took a 4-0 lead into the fifth before tiring. Hanley Ramirez doubled home the Marlins' first run, and two walks loaded the bases.

Buck fouled off two 3-2 pitches, then lofted a fly that hit near the 404-foot sign. With the ball ruled in play, the Marlins' 237-pound catcher chugged into third for his first triple since 2009.

Hernandez departed for a pinch hitter after throwing 97 pitches in five innings. He gave up six hits and five walks.

The right-hander did pull off a nifty trick in the first inning, when he gave up a single and three walks — but no runs. One runner was erased on a double play, and Buck flied out with the bases loaded to end the threat.

Chris Coghlan had three doubles and a single and scored three times for the Marlins, and Omar Infante put them ahead to stay with an RBI single in the sixth off Chad Gaudin (0-1).

"You've got to put these guys away when you have the opportunity," Riggleman said.

NOTES: Florida's Chris Volstad twice retired Jayson Werth, who is 1 for 22 against the right-hander. ... Hernandez remained winless (0-3) in his past six starts against Florida.