Three homers lift first-place Marlins to win over sloppy Nationals

WASHINGTON (AP) -- For the Florida Marlins, it was easy to explain how it is that they beat the Washington Nationals 10-7 Monday night to take sole possession of first place in the NL East.

"We pitched well when we had to," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said, referring to 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball from his bullpen.

"Some big home runs to keep us ahead," Gonzalez also noted, alluding to Dan Uggla's solo shot in the sixth and Robert Andino's two-run shot in the ninth.

And the Nationals? Different players kept offering to take the blame for their fifth consecutive loss following a 3-0 start.

"I put my pitcher in the hole," center fielder Lastings Milledge offered, saying he took his eye off Uggla's flyball in the first inning, an error that led to one of six unearned runs Washington allowed.

"The game is completely on my shoulders. Nothing in this game, defensively or offensively, has anything to do with us losing other than that pitch that I made," right-hander Tim Redding (1-1) said, copping to a 2-2 fastball that Florida's No. 8 hitter, Alfredo Amezaga, turned into a two-run double in the third.

"We're just not getting it done right now," acknowledged right fielder Austin Kearns, part of a 1-for-11 night with five strikeouts for the hosts' 3-4-5 hitters.

Washington also left the bases loaded twice, something the team now has done a total of nine times through eight games.

"I can't grab a bat myself," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "I'm looking forward to all our hits with the bases loaded that we're not getting. It's going to be exciting."

Florida improved to 4-3 thanks in large part to putting up five runs off Redding in the third. All the scoring was unearned, because of shortstop Cristian Guzman's throwing error, and the big blow was Hanley Ramirez's three-run homer to left. Ramirez finished with three hits.

Redding's line was unusual: four innings, seven hits, seven runs -- only one earned.

"Back off on the defense," Redding said.

Marlins starter Andrew Miller -- who came over from Detroit in the offseason trade that sent slugging third baseman Miguel Cabrera and left-hander Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers -- allowed six runs in 3 1-3 innings. After he departed, Florida's bullpen went to work.

Renyel Pinto (1-0) earned the win with 2 2/3 hitless innings. He was followed by Justin Miller, Taylor Tankersley and Kevin Gregg, who got four outs to earn the first save by a Marlins pitcher this season.

"I put a lot of stress on the bullpen again and they just keep stepping it up," Andrew Miller said.

In the seventh, Washington loaded the bases with one out, but Justin Miller got Ronnie Belliard on a popup and pinch-hitter Aaron Boone to fly to center.

In the eighth, the Nationals scored a run on Milledge's sac fly following Guzman's second triple of the game -- he tied a team record -- and then loaded the bases with three consecutive walks.

But Gregg got Paul Lo Duca on a routine grounder to third.

"That's what we need," Ramirez said.

Game notes
Milledge's error drew resounding boos from an announced paid attendance of 20,487 for Game 2 at Washington's 41,888-capacity Nationals Park. There were more than 39,000 at the opener March 30. Also, the $611 million stadium's scoreboards malfunctioned through most of the first inning. ... The game included Andrew Miller's first major league hit -- a single off Redding -- and Florida C Matt Treanor's first career steal. ... After the game, the Marlins activated OF Jeremy Hermida off the DL and optioned OF Brett Carroll to the minors. Before, they purchased the contract of RHP Burke Badenhop from Double-A Carolina.