Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche played his first home game since coming off the disabled list and delivered a two-run homer to cut the Marlins' lead to 3-2. But the Nationals were unable to get anything else going and settled for three hits, leaving four men on base.
"Feels great to be back, no doubt," LaRoche said. "I had to sit there and watch for two weeks. Great to come back, frustrating game today. I felt we didn't give ourselves a ton of opportunities. Not sloppy. We didn't beat ourselves in any way. We weren't on base enough, so frustrating loss."
LaRoche said the Nationals just have to keep working and keep swinging as they go through a hitting slump. They have scored only nine runs in their past five losses.
"That's baseball," LaRoche said. "For whatever reason, when guys are rolling, things are going good, everybody is hitting and you are putting up a on of runs. For whatever reason - I have watched it for years - as a team, when guys struggle, it has a tendency to be contagious at times, whether it is pressing and trying too hard or just running into some really good pitchers. I got a feeling it's a little bit of both right now. Not putting the big inning together. Today we should have done better than that."
A lot of credit has to go to Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi, who allowed one hit in the second inning and two in the sixth. LaRoche said Eovaldi was tough to solve.
"You got a guy that is throwing, can get it up to 95, 97 (mph) with some offspeed to go behind that and spotting the ball, so he was good," LaRoche said. "We faced him before, we all know what he has got. I think we all got some piches to hit, (but) we got to do a better job than that."
Catcher Wilson Ramos delivered the only other extra-base hit for the Nationals with a double in the second, but also is at loss to explain why they can't get timely hits.
"That was very difficult," Ramos said. "We are not hitting well right now. We have to work on that. We got a pretty good team, a lot of good hitters, but we need to work on that. We need to make some runs. We want to win, we want to make some runs."
But Ramos said right-hander Tanner Roark did keep the Nats in the game, despite the two-run Giancarlo Stanton blast that gave the Marlins a 3-0 lead.
"A lot of good pitches today," Ramos said. "Just one hanging pitch to Stanton but (nobody) is perfect. Make an adjustment the next innings, for me he threw well, that was a good game. We only hit three hits. We need to make some runs. We want to win, we want to make some runs.
"I don't think we have pressure. We just need to go out there and be smart. Get a good pitch to hit and see what happens."
A key moment occurred with two outs in the Marlins' half of the third. Roark hit Derek Dietrich with a pitch and then Stanton launched the shot to center field that changed the game.
"He was ahead in the count, but that was supposed to be in, that pitch," Ramos explained. "He hit that guy. We get that guy out, another phase of the game. But that happens. You need to keep your head up. Keep working hard."
Roark said it is always a challenge facing Stanton in any situation, but even moreso when men are on base. And the Dietrich hit by pitch was a mistake.
"Yeah, because I know he likes to pull the ball," Roark said of Dietrich. "I just wanted to get in there, not even for a strike really. I kind of overthrew it and hit him in the elbow pad. The next pitch was to Stanton. I threw first-pitch slider first inning. I felt like I didn't execute it and just hit it a long way."
Roark said with any power hitter, you must make it difficult for him to extend. But Stanton was able to extend for the two-run homer.
"Just down, because he is very aggressive, he has got that long reach. But I left it literally down the middle," Roark said. "Mistakes get hit far and showed it tonight.
"You know he is going to be aggressive, so pitch him inside. Don't give into him, don't give him as much credit. But you still got to give some credit. You got to go out and be aggressive and not be scared. Don't be scared, just attack him."
Overall, Roark did last seven innings and still gave his team chance to win it.
"I felt OK with it," Roark said of his outing. "In the first couple of innings, I guess I felt like I was kind of aiming the ball and not throwing it as well as I wanted to. Not executing some pitches. I felt good, we will keep plugging away and go out there tomorrow and get a W."
Roark made an adjustment in his positioning to get back on track after the three runs allowed early on.
"Just staying back over the rubber a little more and attacking," Roark said. "That helps on everything. So going at hitters. For me, I have to keep my front side in. In the first couple of innings, I was coming off on the first base side. My sinker is not as effective and it leaves balls up."
Despite losing five of six, Roark said no one in the clubhouse is hanging their heads.
"We are fine," Roark said. "We are still having more fun than ever. That is the biggest thing. Morale's up. It will turn around. Just got to keep plugging away and not dwell on anything."