Nationals drop fourth straight with loss to Marlins

The Nationals aren’t playing well at home. Their pitching is sinking quickly. And their offensive rally on Wednesday came too late.

It’s been two months since they looked anywhere near this bad, and in their 3-8 skid to start the second half of the season, they’ve erased almost all of the momentum they built with a 17-10 record in June.

They fell to five games below .500 on Wednesday with another ugly loss, falling 7-5 to the Marlins as Livan Hernandez lost for the eighth time in 10 decisions. They’re now in last place by 1 1/2 games in the NL East, and they have scored just eight runs in their last three games.

Their latest display of offensive futility came after a closed-door team meeting on Wednesday afternoon, during which manager Davey Johnson explained his reasons for shaking up the lineup and said he wouldn’t hesitate to use his bench more often. It didn’t do much good on Wednesday; the Nationals managed only one run before the ninth inning, when they scored four against Marlins relievers Steve Chisek and Leo Nunez. But Laynce Nix, who homered for the second straight night to give the Nationals their first run, hit a first-pitch fly ball that died on the warning track for the final out and came a few feet short of tying the game.

They’ll try to avoid a sweep in the final game of the series tomorrow at 12:35. More from the clubhouse in a little bit.