WASHINGTON -- By the look on Davey Johnson's face after the Nationals' 5-2 home loss to the Marlins on Thursday, it was pretty clear the veteran skipper was not happy.
Washington had baserunning mistakes, a missed sign and subpar offense and pitching. Florida swept the three-game series.
The Nationals got both RBIs from Jayson Werth. In the third inning, with Marlins left-hander Brad Hand on the mound, Werth singled to shallow right field, scoring Danny Espinosa. In the seventh inning, Werth laced a Burke Badenhop pitch up the middle for a single, scoring Ryan Zimmerman, who had four of the club's seven hits.
The Nationals had another opportunity to score at least one more run. In the fourth inning with runners on first and second and two outs, the Nats tried a double steal, but Ian Desmond was thrown out at third base to end the inning.
It turned out that third-base coach Bo Porter misinterpreted the sign from Johnson. Porter thought Johnson wanted a double steal, but Johnson had something else in mind.
"We are aggressive on the bases," Johnson said. "We like to open up holes. If you get a jump, you can go ahead and go, but there was a little confusion there and it was my fault. I have a sign where I can coax them to go, and it was misinterpreted."
Unlike his previous few starts, Nationals lefty John Lannan didn't have his best stuff Thursday. He lasted 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on five hits. He threw 115 pitches in the game, the third most he had ever made in a Major League contest.
"He was all over the place," Johnson said of Lannan. "It looked like he was strong coming out. I took him as far as he has been this year, just to save my bullpen. We are all stretched way out right now. Normally, he would have seven or eight innings with those numbers of pitches. It was a struggle."
Lannan said the biggest issue was he had problems locating his sinker.
"You try not to change much during the game, but you when you are struggling out there, you try to search and search," Lannan said. "It was going so well for a couple of starts there. It will come back, but just going out there and having to struggle trying to find [your command] is not a good feeling. It's unacceptable, and I'll do the work that needs to be done and get back to where I'm supposed to be."
In the third inning, Florida took a 1-0 lead when Emilio Bonifacio scored on an error by Espinosa at second base. An inning later, Mike Cameron scored on a sac bunt by Hand. The ball bounced high in the air and instead of going home, Lannan threw to first because two players told him to go there.
"I just heard two people screaming 'One!'" said Lannan. "I should have looked. But when I have two guys screaming at me to throw [to first], I'm going to throw to first."
In the sixth inning, Mike Stanton hit a solo home run. It was Stanton's ninth career homer against Washington and eighth at Nationals Park. Nats reliever Sean Burnett allowed an RBI single to Bonifacio later in the inning on a run that was charged to Lannan.
Asked how one could stop Stanton, Johnson said, "You have to make good pitches. You just can't leave the ball out. The command of our pitches hasn't been good. It's just one of those things."
The Nationals sit at 49-55 for the season and have gone 9-17 since Johnson took over as manager.
"I would say in the last few nights it seems like, fundamentally, we haven't been that sound," Werth said. "It's not hard to get back on track. It's just focus and playing the game the right way. I chalk that up to kind of bad stretch.
"Realistically, we have to play better baseball. We still have to hit and drive in runs, and we haven't done that all year. If you want to win, you have to score.
"We'll be in the division a lot the rest of the way. We still have a chance."
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.