MIAMI (AP) – Hanley Ramirez had been hitting the ball hard all series with not a lot to show for it.
The Marlins star was rewarded in the series finale against the Washington Nationals, smacking a two-run homer that proved to be the difference in a 5-3 win Monday night to split the four-game series.
“I think I have been hitting balls hard just right to people,” Ramirez said. “It’s nothing I can control. At the end of the day, it’s that `W.’ It’s why we are here.”
Ramirez’s homer off of Edwin Jackson (5-7) broke a 2-all tie in the third inning.
“The home run by Hanley was big,” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. “It was huge to take that lead.”
Carlos Lee also drove in two runs and Emilio Bonifacio laid down a successful squeeze bunt to drive in the other run.
Carlos Zambrano (5-7) allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings, and snapped a four-game losing streak.
“That’s the way we’re supposed to play and know how to play,” Zambrano said. “The game today was outstanding.”
Heath Bell pitched a scoreless eighth, and Mike Dunn pitched the ninth to record his first career save. Dunn allowed a two-out single to Bryce Harper and walked Ryan Zimmerman before striking out Adam LaRoche to end the game.
“Dunn has closing stuff,” Guillen said. “He throws 95 (mph), has a pretty good slider, and throws strikes.”
Zimmerman reached base five times and was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle for the Nationals, while Danny Espinosa needed a homer to accomplish the feat.
“To come down and go 2-2 with a team that’s given us a lot of trouble in the past, we would have liked to take three of four,” Zimmerman said, “but 2-2 is not bad.”
Jackson allowed four runs in five innings to take the loss.
“I couldn’t get into a rhythm – balls wide, balls up, balls down,” Jackson said. “When I did throw strikes, it was pretty much across the middle and they were able to hit them.”
Jesus Flores hit a sacrifice fly to drive in the Nationals’ first run in the second inning before Zimmerman connected on a solo home run an inning later to give Washington a 2-0 lead. Zimmerman’s homer was the 16th against the Marlins in his career, the second this series, and his most against any club.
Lee tied it at 2 with a two-run single in the third inning. Two batters later, Ramirez hit a two-run shot to left-center field to give the Marlins a 4-2 lead.
Zimmerman led off the sixth with a double and scored on a single by Morse to pull the Nationals within a run at 4-3. After Zambrano walked Roger Bernadina to load the bases, Flores bounced into an inning-ending double play. It was the fourth inning-ending double play turned by the Marlins, which tied a season high.
“We hit a bunch of balls right at them,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “They doubled us up a couple of times in huge situations. Maybe a little bit of aggressive base running in a couple of those line drives.”
The Nationals had two runners on base in the seventh, but Randy Choate struck out LaRoche to end the threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, Justin Ruggiano doubled and scored on a squeeze bunt by Bonifacio to extend Miami’s lead to 5-3.
“I’ve got the best guys to execute that play,” Guillen said. “We’ve got Bonny who is one of the best bunters and Ruggiano is a pretty good baseball player. He’s got a good idea how to play the game and that’s why we did it.”
(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)