With a win in his 25th career start in Miami, 23-year-old Marlins' right-hander Jose Fernandez improved to (16-0) at home in Marlins Park.
With five scoreless innings of work against the Washington Nationals, the 2011 first-round pick lowered his ERA in Miami to 1.11 (20 ER in 162 ⅔ IP).
When Nationals' skipper Matt Williams was asked about the effort his team put forth in their 70th loss of the season and their fifth straight loss overall, which left them 9.5 games back in the NL East, Williams said the trouble on Saturday had more to do with their opponent on the mound than any lack of effort on the part of the players.
"I don't think the effort has slacked at all," Williams said.
"Tonight's an example of a really good pitcher and we just couldn't get anything going. But the bench is lively. The guys are loose, they're excited before the game to go play. Results haven't been there, but I think the effort and the attitude is good."
Fernandez had Nats' hitters off-balance throughout his five innings of work on the mound, striking out seven batters, four of them looking, before he was done.
"Breaking balls for strikes early," Williams said.
"He had a good fastball too. We knew that he would be short in some form or fashion because he hasn't pitched in a while, but he kept us at bay all night, throwing it where he wanted to and reaching back when he needed to.
"We just couldn't get anything going against him."
With the losses mounting and the Mets pulling away after sweeping three straight in D.C. last week and winning six straight overall, the division is essentially out of reach, barring something extraordinary.
So how do they keep going?
"I think that it's only human nature to say, 'This wasn't our year,' or whatever it is," Williams explained, "but you have to fight against that, because at any time you're playing for pride's sake and we want to continue to win games, and we want to finish our season as strong as we can possibly finish it and I think that's the attitude.
"I don't think anybody has given in."
"Of course it was a tough series," Tanner Roark told reporters when asked about the sweep at the hands of the Mets, "but you can't dwell on the past. You've just got to move forward and put your best foot forward and just keep giving it everything you've got. You can't dwell on it, you can't let it bother you, you've just got to keep fighting."
Roark, in his second start since returning to the rotation, gave up eight hits, a walk and two earned runs in 4 ⅔ IP, taking the loss in the 2-0 game.
"I felt good," he said. "Commanding the fastball, curveball, but the slider wasn't really there today. Went well overall. We played some great defense, great plays behind me."
After Fernandez was done, the Marlins' relievers, Kyle Barraclough, Raudel Lazo, Bryan Morris and A.J. Ramos put together four scoreless for their second win over the Nationals and their fourth straight win overall.
The Nationals will try to salvage the series finale and stay above .500 when they play the Marlins one more time in Miami today at 1:10 PM EDT.