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Marlins split with Nationals, clinching NL East for Braves

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The Canadian Press
9/22/2013 11:02:11 PM
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WASHINGTON -- The Nationals began Sunday with a ceremony honouring manager Davey Johnson. By the end of the night, their playoff hopes were just about dashed.

Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich homered to lift the Miami Marlins to a 4-2 win in the opener of Sunday's day-night doubleheader, a result that clinched playoff berths for the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals.

Washington gained a split by winning the nightcap 5-4 when Wilson Ramos' ninth-inning grounder bounced off the leg of third baseman Chris Coghlan for a game-ending error that allowed pinch-runner Eury Perez to score.

The Nationals trail NL wild-card co-leaders Cincinnati and Pittsburgh by five games with six to play.

"We aren't finished. I take nothing for granted," Johnson said. "I still think we got a good shot. We need to win them all. We do. Hey, I've been one strike, two runs down, one strike away, and we've come back. So don't lose the faith."

Rafael Soriano (3-3) pitched a scoreless ninth inning to win Washington's regular-season home finale, and Denard Span drove in three runs.

Jayson Werth doubled off Sam Dyson (0-2) leading off the ninth, and Perez pinch ran and stole third with one out.

Coming back from right forearm tightness that had kept him off the mound since Sept. 8, Stephen Strasburg allowed three runs and six hits in six innings and left with a 4-3 lead.

"He was actually awful," Johnson said. "He was. Every pitch he threw was up. He's got such great stuff, but everything was belt high."

Strasburg said: "I went out there and competed and that's all I can do."

Stanton hit a tying double off Tyler Clippard in the eighth.

With Washington trailing 3-2 in the sixth and runners on second and third, Span hit a smash past a diving Ed Lucas at first to make it 4-3.

Miami had been 0-8 at Nationals Park this season coming in and starter Tom Koehler (4-10) had been 0-4 in eight starts since Aug. 1. Koehler allowed two runs and three hits in six innings of the opener, and Steve Cishek pitched a perfect ninth for his 32nd save in 34 chances, completing a four-hitter and a scoreless afternoon for the Marlins' bullpen.

"You can't score six, seven runs every game," Washington's Ryan Zimmerman said. "(Koehler) pitched well and they've got some good arms in the back of their bullpen."

Cishek has converted 27 consecutive save chances, tying Todd Jones 2005 mark for the longest streak in club history.

"You know it's crazy. Out there I had a little more adrenaline pumping. It felt like a playoff atmosphere," Cishek said. "The fans are really into it and those guys are digging in there and every at-bat was huge for them. It felt good to come out and win a game like that."

Dan Haren (9-14) lost to Miami for the third time this year, giving up three runs and eight hits in six innings.

Stanton's 24th homer, a two-run drive after Yelich doubled, put the Marlins ahead in the first.

Yelich added a solo shot in the third.

Koehler, who shut out the Mets for eight innings while earning a no-decision in his last start, limited Washington to two singles over the first five innings.

Zimmerman homered in the sixth, his 26th of the season and 11th of September.

"Like I said before, I'm not very good at math, but I'm good enough to figure out that losing makes it tougher," Zimmerman said between games. "But we've just got to keep playing and see what happens."

Washington grounded into three double plays.

Donovan Solano drove in Miami's final run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

NOTES: Ian Desmond's two stolen bases in the night game gave him his second straight season with at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases. ... Strasburg is the third fastest pitcher (426.1 IP) since 1900 to get to 500 strikeouts behind Kerry Wood (404.2) and Mark Prior (421.2). ... The Nationals won the season series 14-5. ... The ceremony honouring Johnson included a pair of video tributes and the presentation of an engraved Tiffany crystal keepsake. ... Stanton has hit safely in 23 of 29 games at Nationals Park with 13 home runs. ... Ian Desmond's two stolen bases in the night game gave him his second straight season with at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases.

Giancarlo Stanton (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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