WASHINGTON -- Carlos Zambrano put it all together Friday night. The Miami right-hander dominated the Nationals in a seven-inning effort in which Washington came up with only two baserunners.
Zambrano allowed just one run on two hits in his seven innings of work, but the Miami offense couldn't help him. The Marlins came up empty on each of their scoring chances, letting Zambrano's effort go to waste as Washington pulled out a 2-0 victory before 24,640 at Nationals Park.
The loss ended Miami's four-game winning streak, but Zambrano (0-1) certainly tried to keep it alive. He shut down the Nationals (11-4) throughout. Zambrano struck out six and walked none, an improvement over his last start, in which he walked six and struck out four in six innings versus the Astros.
"I felt good today," Zambrano said. "Everything was working. Every pitch -- split-finger, slider, cutter, sinker. That was the most impressive thing, no [walks]. The way I was feeling today, I was in command."
Zambrano retired the first six batters before Rick Ankiel led off the third with a solo homer to center. Ankiel sent a 2-0 sinker over the fence to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead, and Washington never trailed again.
But the only other hit Zambrano gave up was a two-out single to Ankiel in the fifth. After that hit, Zambrano retired the final seven hitters he faced.
"Carlos pitched very well," Miami manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I love the way he threw. He did everything he could to win the game. We couldn't get the big hit today."
The Marlins (7-7) finished 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base. They stranded two in the second, eighth and ninth innings. They had several more chances than the Nationals, who went 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position and left only three on base.
Washington starter Ross Detwiler (2-0) was a big reason the Marlins couldn't get that big hit. He pitched just a little better than Zambrano. The left-hander gave up three hits in six shutout innings. He struck out seven and walked just one.
Miami's best scoring chance against Detwiler came in the second. That's when Giancarlo Stanton singled to lead off, and moved to third when former National Austin Kearns doubled with one out.
John Buck followed with a fly ball to medium center, and Ankiel made a quick throw home, which forced Stanton to hold at third. Detwiler then struck out Donnie Murphy to end the inning.
The only other scoring chance the Marlins had off Detwiler came in the fifth. With one on and two outs, Jose Reyes belted a fly ball to deep center that Ankiel caught at the base of the wall.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson thought Detwiler could've gone into the seventh -- having thrown just 79 pitches -- but didn't want to push it because he didn't throw as much in Spring Trainng.
"[He] was superb," Johnson said. "That was just his third outing, against a good-hitting ballclub. I didn't want to push my luck. I had a fresh bullpen."
The Nationals' bullpen then finished the job. Craig Stammen retired the Marlins in order in the seventh before Tyler Clippard ran into trouble in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Logan Morrison reached on a one-out infield single, and moved to second when Reyes grounded to first. Emilio Bonifacio then battled Clippard for a 14-pitch walk to put runners on first and second with two outs.
Clippard then bounced back to strike out Hanley Ramirez and end the inning.
The Nationals added a run in the eighth, with Ankiel, who had three hits on the night, scoring on a base hit by Ian Desmond.
Miami had one last threat in it, in the ninth against Henry Rodriguez. Gaby Sanchez drew a one-out walk. Buck walked with two outs, but Chris Coghlan grounded into a game-ending force play to give Rodriguez his fourth save.
Zambrano now has a 2.84 ERA in three starts. He's given up six earned runs in 19 innings, struck out 16 and walked eight. But the right-hander still is looking for win No. 1, and when asked about that afterwards, Zambrano just smiled.
"This is a long season," Zambrano said. "I've been in this situation before. One time with the Cubs, [I] didn't win any games in [the] first month, and ended up winning 16. But you can't look down. You have to keep your head up. There's 30 or 31 more starts to go."
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.