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FLA@WSH: Wang earns win with quality start

WASHINGTON - Chien-Ming Wang may not yet be the pitcher that he was when he was with the Yankees. But he's getting closer.

Wang allowed three runs in his longest outing since 2008 and Chris Marrero drove in two runs as the Nationals ended a five-game home losing streak to the Florida Marlins with a 4-3 win on Sunday.

In his 10th start of the season, Wang (3-3) pitched 6 2/3 innings, scattering six hits and striking out a season-high five for the Nationals (72-79). The right-hander surrendered two home runs, but hung on for his first victory since August 16, a span of six starts.

The victory -- the Nationals' seventh in 10 games -- was their 42nd home win of the season, a season-high since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005.

"It's turning into a pretty good success story for him," said outfielder Jonny Gomes, who faced Wang when both played in the American League. "That aside, he's having some success. If he just came back and pitched, that would be pretty awesome. To come back and pitch at this level and have success, that's icing on the cake."

Wang returned to the Major Leagues in July after being sidelined for over two years following shoulder surgery in 2009.

"Every game I have to make little adjustments, but today's outing I thought I was pretty good because I got first-pitch strikes," the 31-year-old said through an interpreter. "And the breaking ball was good, so I think it was a good outing."

The Nationals finally stopped playing the role of hospitable host to their visitors from Miami. This season they had dropped seven of eight at Nationals Park to the Marlins, but their generous ways extended beyond 2011. Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Florida was 14-3 at Washington's home venue and 26-8 all-time.

Upon joining the Nationals' rotation, Wang has consistently pitched into the fifth and sixth inning, but only made it into the seventh once before his latest start. He was one out away from working a full seven innings but served up a two-run homer to Brett Hayes, Wang's final batter of the game.

Tyler Clippard finished off the inning and pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Drew Storen closed out the ninth for his 38th save.

With his sinker sinking and his slider sliding, Wang efficiently carved up the Marlins' (69-84) batters early, surrendering just one hit with no walks through four innings.

Florida managed to score a run on the first pitch of the fifth inning, as outfielder Gaby Sanchez smacked the initial offering from Wang inches over the left-field wall. The right-hander allowed two hits in the sixth, but avoided any damage.

"[Wang's] two-seamer was moving really well today," Sanchez said. "He was able to spot his two-seamer in, and his offspeed pitches were good too."

Gomes' double off the left-center-field wall opened the second inning, and two batters later he scored on Marrero's sacrifice fly to right-center field, sliding ahead of a perfect strike from Marlins right fielder Mike Stanton.

More offense came in the fourth inning before the crowd of 26,581. Ryan Zimmerman's second double of the game started the inning and Michael Morse walked.

One out later Danny Espinosa's single to center was overrun by outfielder Bryan Petersen, allowing both runners to score. Espinosa took third on the play and scored on Marrero's ground-rule double.

Since being called up from the Minors, Marrero has nine RBIs and 21 hits in 21 games, while displaying the ability to drive home runners in scoring position.

"That's the maturation of a young player," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said of his 23-year-old first baseman. "The first few days he was here he was kind of feeling his way. Now he's letting more of his talent out and he's trying to attack the ball a little more."

The Nationals only had five hits against Marlins starter Brad Hand (1-8) and three relievers, but four went for two bases. Hand pitched four innings, allowing four runs -- three earned -- on five hits en route to losing his fifth consecutive start.

Following their final off-day of the season, the Nationals open a four-game, three-day series in Philadelphia. As for what the future holds beyond this season for Wang and the Nationals?

"Hopefully I can come back here, but the decision is made by the team," said Wang, who joined the Nationals in 2010. "But personally I would like to come back. "I really appreciate their patience the last two years. Hopefully in the future I can win more games for them." Comments