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MIA@WSH: Ozuna homers for Marlins' first run

WASHINGTON -- Tom Koehler, like Stephen Strasburg, surrendered one home run on Thursday afternoon. The difference is the Marlins' right-hander issued a walk prior to yielding a two-run blast to Jayson Werth.

Werth's shot, coupled with Strasburg's 12 strikeouts, provided the Nationals with the necessary boost to beat the Marlins, 7-1, completing a three-game sweep at Nationals Park.

It was a 2-1 game until the eighth inning, when the Nationals struck for five runs off Arquimedes Caminero. Ian Desmond's grand slam was the crushing blow.

For the second straight day, the Marlins watched the Nationals celebrate a game-changing grand slam in the eighth inning. Werth delivered a slam in the same frame in Wednesday's 10-7 comeback victory.

"This is a tough lineup to navigate," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "We've got to get some things figured out, but we'll do it. We all wish we had a better showing here. But we all know we can play against these guys."

Strasburg and three Washington relievers combined to strike out 17 Marlins, matching a franchise high for a nine-inning game.

Twice previously the Marlins fanned 17 times in a non-extra-inning game, the most recent one coming on April 28, 2002, against the D-backs. Curt Schilling started that day and struck out 13. And on April 13, 1996, Hideo Nomo of the Dodgers threw a complete game against the Marlins, striking out 17.

The late afternoon start, with shadows creeping in around the middle innings, created an ideal situation for high strikeouts.

"I know guys were having a tough time as soon as the shadows crept in," Redmond said. "I'm sure that was part of it. But Strasburg is tough. He's a good pitcher. He knows how to pitch. He definitely did his job to keep us off-balance. Obviously, we struck out a lot. He did his job."

Strasburg allowed one run on three hits, the lone hits the Marlins had in the game. Marcell Ozuna's home run in the seventh inning generated Miami's lone run.

Dating back to last year, the Marlins are 1-12 at Nationals Park. Miami has now dropped four straight overall after opening the season 5-1.

Koehler was solid in six innings, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out six. But the way Strasburg was throwing, there was little margin for error for the Marlins right-hander.

"It's a tough one," Koehler said. "The last two days have been a little tough. The great part about it is we get to come back tomorrow and play another division team and get this ship going in the right direction."

The Marlins open a three-game set at Philadelphia on Friday.

Miami entered the afternoon having struck out a season-high 11 times in a game, done three times, including Wednesday night.

"He established fastball early, and again, they came out aggressive," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "That happens with Stephen. Teams swing early against him. He was able to establish it and work his changeup off it. Strike one is the key."

Strasburg was in complete command and holding a two-run lead until the seventh inning, when Ozuna blasted a one-out home run to deep left field. The drive landed a few rows from the back of the seats, and it nearly reached the concourse.

Strasburg's afternoon ended after he issued a two-out walk to Jeff Mathis with two outs in the seventh.

For the entire series, whenever the Nationals were given an opening, they capitalized. They did so again on Werth's homer. With two outs in the third inning, Koehler issued a walk to Anthony Rendon. The free pass cleared the way for Werth to jump on a 3-0 fastball and provide Washington with a two-run lead.

"You know he's aggressive," Koehler said of Werth. "You know he might be swinging there, especially when he is feeling pretty good. I certainly have got to do a better job of not taking that pitch off, and executing a quality 3-0 pitch."

Miami had an immediate chance to get on the board in the first inning when Christian Yelich singled to open the game. Yelich stole second and advanced to third when the ball skipped past center fielder Nate McLouth.

For Yelich, the stolen base was a milestone, because it tied a franchise record. It was his 13th straight successful stolen base to begin his career. In 1996, Edgar Renteria also swiped 13 in a row to begin his career.

But with Yelich on third and no outs, Strasburg got out of the jam. Derek Dietrich bounced to the mound, and the ball deflected off the Nationals' right-hander. However, Strasburg was able to recover and get Yelich in a rundown, where he was tagged out. Dietrich advanced to second, but Giancarlo Stanton struck out and Garrett Jones lined out to deep center to end the threat.

After Yelich's single to open the first, Strasburg held Miami without another hit until Koehler reached on an infield single in the sixth inning. The Marlins had two on and one out after Dietrich was hit by a pitch. But the potential for a threat fizzled when Stanton and Jones each struck out.

A lack of execution hurt the team all series, and reliever Mike Dunn, who threw a scoreless seventh inning, says the club has to move forward.

"We've got to get back to our baseball, errorless baseball," Dunn said. "Do what we can do and not anything more. We really just have to stay focused. We had a good spring together as a team and a good start. We know the guys behind us have our back. It's just grinding it out. There is a lot of baseball to be played. You can't let it loom on you. You can't let a cloud hang over you. You've got to let it go." Comments