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Washington pours on the power
09/28/2005 12:29 AM ET
MIAMI -- If manager Frank Robinson had to vote for the National League Cy Young Award winner this season, he would select Marlins left-hander Dontrelle Willis over Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter.

Robinson admitted that he has seen more of Willis than of Carpenter, and pointed out how much of an easy time Willis has had with the Nationals/Expos during his career. Entering Tuesday's action, Willis was 8-2 with a 2.48 ERA during his career and 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA this season.

But on Tuesday night, however, the Nationals were able to have their way with him, and pounded the Marlins, 11-1, in front of 11,507 at Dolphins Stadium. It's the first time since May 7 that the Nationals scored more than 10 runs in a game and only the fourth time they have accomplished that feat all year.

Willis lasted four-plus innings and gave up nine runs -- five earned. The last time he gave up that many runs to the franchise was on May 20, 2003, when he gave up five runs in three innings against the Expos.

"We got some offense," said Robinson. "It would be good to go into the winter saying, 'We got Dontrelle the last time he pitched against us.' Maybe it will be a carryover. Maybe this thing will turn around. Maybe it will be our turn to win a few ballgames against him. It's nice to beat him."

Jamey Carroll and Marlon Byrd were the hitting heroes. Carroll went 2-for-5 with a career-high three RBIs, and Byrd went 4-for-6 and was a triple short of the cycle.

The Nationals' bullpen-by-committee, which featured Jon Rauch, Mike Stanton, Travis Hughes and John Halama, allowed just the one run on nine hits. Stanton picked up the win, and Willis lost his 10th game of the season.

Rauch, making his first start since Aug. 13, 2004, had no idea that he would be on the hill until he was riding the bus to Dolphins Stadium. He ended up pitching three shutout innings.

"I was surprised that I was starting, since I got up in the bullpen [on Monday]," said Rauch, who missed most of the season because of shoulder problems. "I threw 10 pitches in the bullpen, but I didn't get into the game. It wasn't a stress on my arm, by any means. I didn't think I would get the ball. At the same time, you are pretty happy about it, especially after you have missed so much time."

Fielding errors by the Marlins helped the Nationals score four runs in the second inning. With runners on first and third, Rauch hit a slow roller down the third-base line. It looked as though it was going foul but Willis touched it. Byrd scored on the play, and Rauch collected an infield single.

Brad Wilkerson followed with a routine ground ball that went through the legs of first baseman Carlos Delgado. Gary Bennett scored on the play, and Rauch advanced to third.

Rauch then scored on a Carroll single, and Wilkerson scored the fourth run of the inning when second baseman Mike Lowell made a throwing error on a ball hit by Preston Wilson.

"Willis wasn't as effective, and they made mistakes behind him," said Carroll. "We had to take advantage, and we did a good job of doing that tonight. I think it forced him to change his game a little bit."

In the third, Byrd made it a 5-0 game when he drove in Ryan Zimmerman with a double to left field.

The Nationals scored three more runs in the fifth inning, which was highlighted by Carroll's two-run double.

Ismael Valdez was on the mound in the sixth inning when Wilkerson doubled home Guzman to make it a 10-0 game.

Byrd made it an 11-0 game with his solo homer off Paul Quantrill.

Since returning from Triple-A New Orleans on Aug. 26, Byrd is hitting .306 (19-for-62) with two home runs and nine RBIs. He is doing a good job of re-establishing himself in the big leagues.

"When I went down to the Minors, I had something to prove to myself and to this organization," said Byrd. "I did it in New Orleans, and I had to show that I could hit big-league pitching."

The Nationals improved their record to 80-78 and are now tied with the Marlins for fourth place in the National League East. The franchise is a win away from assuring a .500 record in three out of the last four years.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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