Washington Nationals Win Ugly, 9-7 Over Florida Marlins.

• With the Nationals' leadoff hitter and starting center fielder Nyjer Morgan out until later this week with hamstring issues, Willie Harris is leading off, and he starts today's game by grounding out on the first pitch he sees from Josh Johnson...Johnson gets a grounder to short from Adam Kennedy for the second out of the frame, and gives up a two-out walk to Ian Desmond who scores on Chris Duncan's double for a 1-0 Nationals' lead after a half...

• There was a lot of talk yesterday amongst the Nationals beat writers, but even the Marlins' radio announce team commented this afternoon that the throw Ian Desmond made for the first out of the Florida first was exactly the same play that Guzman couldn't (or wouldn't) make yesterday. Is there any doubt who'd be starting if Opening Day was tomorrow? Guzman's got two weeks to work his way back...

• With right field open for any player to claim, Willie Harris is getting a noticeable number of starts out there since Dukes was released, but Justin Maxwell, who everybody's hoping will claim the job, brought just a .121 AVG, 4 for 33, 1 double, 1 HR and 4 RBI's into today's game...(Update: Justin Maxwell would end the day hitting .111 after going 0 for 3, but his clutch two-out walk allowed for the game-winning hit by Alberto Gonzalez, so Maxwell found a way to produce even while going 0 for 3...) (ed. note - "Federal Baseball.com: Stressing the Positives Since Aug '07.")

John Lannan retired the first six batters he faced, but the Marlins got to the Nationals' Opening Day lefty in the third, when Ian Desmond dropped a tough pop from Cody Ross, who hustled around to second, and three of the next four Marlins' batters, Logan Morrison, Brian Barden and Cameron Maybin all singled with the last two scoring runs to put Florida up 2-1 after three. After the Nationals had tied it in the top of the frame when Eric Bruntlett's two-out single scored Ian Desmond, Lannan came back with a quick 1-2-3 fourth to preserve the 2-2 tie...

• Ian Desmond's infield single in the fifth loaded the bases with two down to set up Chris Duncan, with John Lannan on third after walking and Adam Kennedy at second after singling. Hayden Penn replaced Marlins' starter Josh Johnson after he'd walked Lannan, and he went 3-0 to Duncan before he threw a strike and got a groundout to first to end the Nationals' threat...

• A leadoff single in the fifth by Cody Ross got through the right side of the infield, but Ross was forced at second on a groundout by Logan Morrison and Lannan struck out the opposing pitcher and popped up outfielder Brian Barden to end the fifth. Lannan's done after 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 K's, 60 pitches, 45 strikes. 

• Pudge Rodriguez singled to start the sixth and scored on an Eric Bruntlett double to put Washington up 3-2. Marlins' righty Hayden Penn let a sac bunt by Maxwell advance Bruntlett to third, then walked Roger Bernadina, struck out Pete Orr and put Willie Harris on with another walk to load the bases for Adam Kennedy with two down. Kennedy cleared the bases with a 3-run double to left, Washington takes the lead, 6-2 over the Fish. Kennedy 2 for 4 with 3 RBI's, Sorry Guzman, gonna have to win that SS spot...

Jason Bergmann, who's fighting for a bullpen role, gave up back-to-back singles to Cameron Maybin and Hanley Ramirez before recording the first out of the sixth when Jorge Cantu grounded into a force at second that scored Maybin from third ahead of the throw home. 6-3 DC. Dan Uggla hit the third single off Bergmann to move Ramirez's pinch runner, Hector Luna around to third. Ronny Paulino hit a grounder to short that Ian Desmond booted, allowing Luna to score and make it 6-4 Nationals. Bergmann walked Cody Ross to load the bases and then finally got the second out when he struck out Logan Morrison...but pinch hitter Mike Lamb doubled over Roger Bernadina's head in left to clear the bases and put Florida up 7-6...Brian Barden pops out to end the Marlins' sixth...and possibly Bergmann's time in DC...

• The Nationals tied it back up in the seventh and then former Nats' reliever Mike MacDougal blew the lead...MacDougal got the first two outs before issuing back-to-back two-out walks to Eric Bruntlett and Justin Maxwell, and giving up an RBI single to Roger Bernadina that tied the game at 7-7. MacDougal then walked a third batter, Pete Orr, to set up Alberto Gonzalez, whose two-out single off Fish reliever Hunter Jones scored two runs to put Washington ahead 9-7. 

Tyler Clippard K'd 2 and allowed 2 hits in 2.0 scoreless innings pitched in relief. Luis Atilano and Jesse English combine to end the ninth. Nationals win, 9-7 final. LINKS: MLB.com Box Score, Federal Baseball GameThread.

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