MIAMI (AP) — The Marlins failed in their late comeback attempt and saw their fleeting playoff hopes come to an end.
Ryan Zimmerman's RBI triple keyed a three-run seventh inning as the Washington Nationals rallied for a 3-2 victory Saturday night, eliminating the Marlins from NL wild-card contention.
Miami had a chance in the ninth, getting one-out singles by Marcell Ozuna and Justin Bour, but Washington closer Drew Storen got pinch-hitter Garrett Jones to ground into a game-ending double play for his ninth save in 12 opportunities.
"I'm proud of these guys," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "We've battled through a lot of adversity — they've given me everything they have every single day.
"Losing (right fielder Giancarlo Stanton) was a big blow — a big blow to our team and to our offense and to our lineup."
Zimmerman had two hits in his return after missing 55 games because of a hamstring injury. After his run-scoring triple got the Nationals on the scoreboard, Asdrubal Cabera had an RBI triple two batters later to tie the score at 2-2 and chase Miami starter Jarred Cosart. Denard Span singled off reliever Mike Dunn put the Nationals ahead.
Miami avoided a bigger inning when Zimmerman was thrown out at home on a fielder's choice. The Nationals appealed the call but the video review upheld the call that catcher Jeff Mathis tagged Zimmerman's left leg before it crossed home plate.
"The ball, when I'm on third, it was instincts and I go and I went," Zimmerman said. "I probably shouldn't have gone. Everything's fine nothing happened but looking back, it wasn't the smartest thing to do."
Cosart (4-3) was charged with all three runs and gave up nine hits in 6 1-3 innings. He walked two and struck out two.
"I wasn't' sharp, I wasn't down," Cosart said. "Throw a bad pitch, a lot of balls in the middle of the plate. They've won 90 games for a reason and that's what they're supposed to do with those pitches."
Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann (13-5) gave up two runs and five hits over six innings. He struck out four and stayed in the game and finished the sixth inning despite getting hit by a line drive from leadoff hitter Casey McGehee. Second baseman Cabrera retrieved the ball and threw McGehee out.
"It happened so fast," Zimmermann said. "I saw the ball coming and thought that it was stopped. I just tried turning and lift my shoulder. I was lucky enough that it hit my shoulder and not my face.
"It's a little sore — pretty tight right now but it will be fine. It's not going to affect me."
Manager Matt Williams and Nationals assistant trainer Steve Gober immediately raced to the mound to check on Zimmermann.
"He was pitching well, he could certainly go longer but not with something like that," Williams said. "We're not going to take any chances there.
"It's scary but I think he's going to come out of it fine."
NL East champion Washington moved 2 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers for best record in the league.
"We're still battling even though we clinched," Span said. "We're still loose but at the same time we feel we're playing for something. It's good to see guys in the ball game not giving up just because we already clinched."
Bour's RBI single in the first put the Marlins on the scoreboard, and they doubled their lead in the fourth when Reed Johnson doubled to center and scored on two throwing errors on the play.
The Nationals won their 10th consecutive game in a game started by Zimmermann.
Zimmerman started in left field as Williams gave Bryce Harper the night off.
With Zimmerman expected to play many of the Nationals' remaining games in left field, Williams plans on utilizing Harper in the other outfield positions.
"Harp's got the ability to play all three," Williams said. "He may move around a little bit the next two, three games in the outfield to give Zim a chance."
Stephen Strasburg (12-11, 3.34) will start for the Nationals in the series finale on Sunday. The Marlins will go with struggling Nathan Eovaldi (6-12, 4.48).
There was speculation that Miami was going to shut down Eovaldi for the remainder of the season. Eovaldi, 24, has lost his last six decisions and has surrendered 26 earned runs in 35 innings during his winless stretch.
"We believe in this guy and his stuff," Redmond said. "He's pitched a lot of innings this year and whether he's getting a bit tired or whatever but that's part of being a major league starter and pitching 200 innings."