MIAMI -- A fielder's choice by Ed Lucas in the bottom of the 10th inning helped the Marlins defeat the Nationals, 2-1, at Marlins Park on Saturday night. Washington dropped its record to 47-47 and hopes it doesn't go under .500 before the All-Star break.
Reliever Craig Stammen was on the mound when the Marlins scored the winning run. Adeiny Hechavarria led off and hit a ground ball to third baseman Chad Tracy, who threw the ball over the head of first baseman Adam LaRoche for a two-base error. Three batters later, the bases were loaded, when Lucas hit into a force play, but the Nationals couldn't turn two and Hechavarria scored the winning run.
"There's no chance it could have been turned. We did everything right," said shortstop Ian Desmond, whose throw to LaRoche at first nearly got Lucas.
Where was third baseman Ryan Zimmerman? Manager Davey Johnson made a double-switch and wanted Stammen to go more than one inning. Zimmerman made the last out in the ninth inning.
It was obvious that Tracy felt bad about making the error that hurt his team.
"The ball came out wrong. It didn't end up where it was supposed to," Tracy said.
Right-hander Dan Haren pitched his best game of the season, throwing six shutout innings, but he didn't get a decision. Haren said all he needed was to rest his inflamed right shoulder, which he did after the Nationals put him on the disabled list in late June.
Resting the shoulder paid off, as Haren had his second straight quality start. Haren allowed three hits and struck out seven batters. The Marlins had a runner in scoring position only once when the righty was on the mound.
"I felt good. I kept the ball down. That has been the key for me in the last two starts," Haren said. "I just really focus on keeping the ball down. I was throwing strikes, keeping the defense in it. It's nice to throw some zeros."
The Nationals helped Haren take the lead against right-hander Jose Fernandez in the fourth inning. They had runners on first and third with one out when Jayson Werth hit a fly ball to center fielder Marcell Ozuna, who made a perfect throw to home plate, but Bryce Harper scored after knocking down catcher Jeff Mathis at the plate to make it 1-0.
Fernandez, who will represent the Marlins in the All-Star Game, was solid on the mound, lasting six innings and allowing the one run on four hits.
But the Marlins tied the game at 1 in the bottom of the ninth inning when right fielder Giancarlo Stanton hit a mammoth home run over the left-field wall off closer Rafael Soriano. It was Stanton's 16th career home run against Washington in just four years in the big leagues.
"I tried to go away and the ball came back in a little bit. A bad mistake," Soriano said.
"I never think homer," Stanton said. "You may swing harder in some counts, so whatever, whatever. But I had two strikes, so that was more get the barrel on the ball. It was still a ball, but I got my hands to it. That's thing. If the ball's up and you get your hands to it, it's going to go if you get on top of it."
The Nationals had a chance to score in the 10th inning against Marlins closer Steve Cishek. They had runners on second and third with one out, but both Scott Hairston and Ryan Zimmerman struck out to end the threat.
Harper was already out of the game by the eighth inning, having been ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Desmond didn't mince words, saying that Harper should have bit his tongue and remained in the game. It was Hairston who entered the game as Harper's replacement and struck out in the 10th inning.
"I usually try to say the right thing, I guess, but we have to have our three-hole hitter in the game right there. It's as simple as that," Desmond said. "The person that hits in the three-hole is usually your best hitter, one of your better players, usually the best. There is no doubt that his skill set is there, but ... in a one-run ballgame ... we need that game.
"That's the game you have to stay in, no matter what. Sometimes you have to bite your tongue. You get bad calls against us. The umpires didn't look at the replays or anything like that. But you have to stay in the game -- you have to for your team."
Johnson was so upset after the game that he vowed that changes would be made to the starting lineup Sunday and after the All-Star break. He didn't say what changes he would make.
"I'll probably make some changes tomorrow. We'll see," Johnson said. "We'll see you tomorrow."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.