WASHINGTON -- The Nationals knew the fastball was coming from Javier Vazquez. That didn't mean they could do anything about it.
Vazquez took a straightforward approach to dominate Washington on Friday, relying on the most simple pitch in his arsenal to twirl a five-hit, complete-game shutout in a 3-0 Florida victory.
"He used a lot more fastball than we are used to seeing from him," said Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond. "He was hitting his spots."
One day after pounding out 10 runs and 14 hits against the Mets, the Nats mustered a mere five singles against Vazquez (11-11) and only put two runners into scoring position while striking out seven times.
"You have to tip your hat -- Vazquez pitched a heck of a ballgame," said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. "I thought we had a chance to get to him. He was coming right after us. He threw a lot of fastballs. We hit a couple of balls hard but couldn't mount anything."
The Nationals' best chance to score came in the seventh inning, when Ryan Zimmerman and Laynce Nix led off the inning with back-to-back singles. But Vazquez struck out Rick Ankiel and Danny Espinosa, and pinch-runner Brian Bixler was picked off first base by Florida catcher John Buck.
"It was a huge out," Vazquez said. "After those first two guys got on and I struck out the other two, I was behind 2-0 to [Chris] Marrero. It is not a good count for the pitcher. So that was a huge play for me."
Johnson prepared to come out and argue that Bixler was safe, only to be called back by his own dugout.
"I started arguing, but I turned back to [Livan Hernandez] and he said, 'I think he got him,'" Johnson said. "So I took a right turn."
The hard-luck loser for Washington was John Lannan (9-13), who struggled early and paid the price when the team couldn't muster any offense.
Lannan had control issues early, resulting in three walks to the first seven Marlins batters he faced. In the second inning, Gaby Sanchez and Bryan Petersen drew back-to-back walks and both runners moved up when Lannan uncorked a wild pitch. Buck then followed with a single to give Florida a 1-0 lead.
Lannan didn't issue any walks in the third inning, but he was too close to the plate, as Omar Infante and Mike Stanton smacked back-to-back doubles. Sanchez followed with an RBI single two batters later to make it 3-0.
"Tonight was a battle," Lannan said. "I didn't have my best stuff and was all over the place. The defense made some key plays for me to stay in there and settle down, but those runs were costly."
Lannan made it through six innings, allowing eight hits while striking out just one. Normally, that might be enough to earn a win, but the Nationals couldn't solve Vazquez.
"He gave up three runs in six innings, but we didn't give him too much help," Johnson said.
The Nationals were missing both Michael Morse and Jayson Werth, who were given days off. The lineup did feature the return of Nix, who had not started since straining his groin against Atlanta on Sept. 1.
"I'm pretty pleased that I was able to move quickly and do everything I needed to do," Nix said. "Overall, it's come a long way, and I'm glad I was able to play most of that game."
The Marlins continued their road mastery of the Nationals, improving to 25-8 against Washington in the four seasons since Nationals Park opened, including a 6-1 mark so far this year.
"We didn't play badly," Desmond said. "Vazquez just pitched well. They were ready to go, and we were a little less."
Elliott Smith is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.