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Caleb Smith roughed up in loss to Nationals

The Marlins trailed by as many as nine on Sunday before rallying to make the final score slightly more respectable.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in 2019, Caleb Smith had an ugly day on the mound. The lefty gave up five earned runs in only three innings of work, as the Miami Marlins fell for the third consecutive game to the Washington Nationals, 9-6, on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park.

Smith exited the first inning without any damage. In the second, however, Howie Kendrick belted a four-seam fastball from Smith into the seats for his eighth homer on the season, giving Washington an early 1-0 advantage.

In the third, the Nationals pounded Smith for four runs. Howie Kendrick’s second hit brought home Adam Eaton and Anthony Rendon. The very next batter, Brian Dozier, doubled off the right-center field wall, scoring Juan Soto and Kendrick.

Miami’s ace simply wasn’t locating pitches with his usual precision. Aside from an injury-shortened outing last June 24, this was the only start of Smith’s major league career in which he failed to record multiple strikeouts.

The Nats turned to inexperienced righty Erick Fedde. Replacing intended starter and former Marlin Aníbal Sánchez, who was put on the 10-day IL due to a left hamstring strain, Fedde shut down the Marlins for five innings. He held them to just four hits while striking out four.

Wei-Yin Chen worked three innings of relief, surrendering four runs on six hits (with a brief rain delay in between). Tyler Kinley then replaced Chen, allowing four hits in his two innings, but did not cough up a run.

Trailing 9-0 in the eighth, the Marlins’ offense began clawing back. Neil Walker’s fourth homer of the season cut the Nationals’ lead to 9-2. In the ninth, Brian Anderson doubled home Rosell Herrera, Garrett Cooper and Harold Ramírez, who continued his offensive work against the Nationals. Walker then singled home Anderson.

But it was still too little, too late.

Ramírez finished 3-for-4 Sunday, increasing his overall average to .395. That would rank best in Major League Baseball if he had enough plate appearances to qualify for MLB leaderboards.

The Marlins will look to avoid a four-game series sweep on Memorial Day. Jose Ureña will make his 11th start of the season Monday. Ureña, in his previous outing, picked up the victory against Detroit, working six innings and allowing only two runs. The Nationals will turn to ace Max Scherzer. He has 96 strikeouts on the year in 71 13 innings of work. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.

Marlins vs. Nationals box score (

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