Apr 7, 2011, 4:23 AM EST
Associated Press photo
Ian Desmond had four hits but committed a costly error in the Nats’ 7-4 loss.
MIAMI — The fifth inning was “the story of the ballgame,” Jim Riggleman said, and it’s hard to disagree with the manager’s assessment of tonight’s 7-4 loss to the Marlins. It was during that fifth inning when starter Livan Hernandez turned a four-run lead into a tie game after issuing a pair of two-out walks followed by a bases-clearing triple.
The rest of the evening at Sun Life Stadium went exactly as you’d expect after a momentum shift like that. The Nationals’ bullpen and defense betrayed them, and their lineup went silent against Florida’s relief corps.
The end result: their seventh straight loss to the Marlins, and incredibly their 41st in 55 encounters with their division rivals over the last three-plus seasons.
There may be no surer thing in baseball right now than a Florida victory over Washington, and Riggleman and Co. know it.
“You have to start feeling that you’ve got to put these guys away when you have an opportunity,” the manager said. “They’ve got a good group there, and they’ve had their way with us for a couple years now. There’s nothing to do but battle your way out of it and bust open a ballgame to where they can’t come back.”
There’s the key. As painful as Hernandez’s fifth-inning meltdown was, it could have been moot had the Nationals simply taken advantage of their earlier opportunities to pile on and erase any realistic thought of a comeback.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY
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