Johnson strikes out seven, further lowers ERA

MIAMI -- Josh Johnson needed 22 pitches to get his first out, then escaped the opening inning without allowing a run.

That was the first of many missed chances for the Washington Nationals.

Johnson and three relievers combined on an 11-hit shutout Saturday night to help the Florida Marlins beat Washington 2-0.

"You take it any way you can get it," Johnson said. "It doesn't matter how many hits you give up. Anytime you win a game, flat out, it's a good win."

Johnson (10-3) struck out seven and walked none in six innings, lowering his NL-leading ERA to 1.62. The All-Star pitcher has not allowed more than two runs in his past 12 starts, pitching at least six innings each time.

He worked from the stretch a lot against the Nationals, who went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position. They stranded 10 and had one thrown out at the plate.

"I look at it as the glass half full," manager Jim Riggleman said. "That many hits, we are going to have some good things happen."

Washington's Ryan Zimmerman barely missed a three-run homer when he hooked a long drive a few feet foul in the seventh. He then struck out looking on a 3-2 breaking pitch from Jose Veras to end the inning.

"I don't think it was going through his mind I was going to throw a breaking ball on a 3-2 count," Veras said. "It was a strike in the middle, and he didn't swing at it."

Zimmerman was retired three times, stranding two runners on each occasion. Adam Dunn stranded five runners by striking out three times against Johnson.

Florida won despite being out-hit 114. Ronny Paulino drove in the only runs with a single in the second off Livan Hernandez (6-6).

Washington had at least one hit in seven innings. Johnson allowed singles by Nyjer Morgan and Roger Bernadina to start the game but escaped, setting a pattern for the night.

"He is one of the best in the league," Riggleman said. "When he needed to make a pitch, he made a pitch, and he made some great pitches to get out of trouble."

The Nationals' Adam Kennedy was thrown out at the plate in the fourth trying to score from second after second baseman Dan Uggla mishandled a two-out grounder. Kennedy said third-base coach Pat Listach initially signaled for him to go home, then switched to a stop sign.

"I was just reading my third-base coach," Kennedy said. "I realized what happened after I looked at Uggla, but I was halfway down the line."

Leo Nunez gave up a two-out scratch single in the ninth before earning his 21st save in 26 chances. The Marlins have eight shutouts this season, all with help from their much-maligned bullpen.

Johnson improved to 7-0 in 14 games against the Nationals, but he lost the weekend battle of the box office to Washington rookie Stephen Strasburg. Friday's game drew 27,037 when Strasburg pitched, while attendance Saturday was 23,005. That didn't include a bee infestation that forced the Marlins to close an area of seats near the Nationals' bullpen.

Marlins left fielder Chris Coghlan left the game after five innings because of a strained lower left back. He said he'll sit out Sunday, and his status is day to day.

Hernandez allowed only four hits and one earned run but departed for a pinch hitter after six innings trailing 2-0. He remained winless since June 21.

"That's about as good as he has pitched in a long time," Riggleman said. "He was outstanding."

Florida took advantage of an error by shortstop Ian Desmond to score both runs in the second inning. After Desmond dropped Uggla's soft liner, Jorge Cantu singled and Mike Stanton walked to load the bases. Paulino followed with a one-out single.

Game notes
After the game, the Marlins said INF Mike Lamb will be designated for assignment Sunday. ... Hernandez singled in the fifth for his 200th career hit. His average is .224. ... The Marlins hope C John Baker (right arm) will return in late August or early September. He has been sidelined since May 14. ... Left-handed hitters are 1 for 21 (.047) against Florida LHP Taylor Tankersley. ... Nationals C Ivan Rodriguez is batting .349 (22 for 63) with runners in scoring position.