MIAMI — With Marlins Park more empty than usual, the menacing approach of Hurricane Irma made for an eerie atmosphere.
Even South Florida native Gio Gonzalez’s rooting section was smaller than normal, but he was unfazed. The left-hander and four relievers combined on a six-hitter, and the Washington Nationals beat Miami for the eighth consecutive time, winning 8-1 Wednesday night.
Announced attendance was 14,390, smallest of the year at Marlins Park for the second night in a row. With the area bracing for Irma, a head count at first pitch put the actual crowd size at 799.
“It’s weird to get going in Miami knowing what’s coming,” Gonzalez said. “I was trying to take emotion out of the game, but it’s tough. Too much going on.”
Gonzalez said his wife and children were back in Washington, and his mother and brother were packed and ready to evacuate. Most of his usual contingent of family and friends skipped the game.
“You understand — ‘I’d rather you guys be home preparing for what’s coming,'” he said.
Taylor, also a South Florida native, was glad about the timing of the Nationals’ visit.
“It has been a little hectic trying to get everything situated with my place and my family,” he said. “But I’m kind of glad I’m here. It gives me a chance to help out a little bit before I leave.”
The Nationals completed a three-game sweep and have outscored the Marlins 53-12 in their past eight meetings.
“That just means we were hot, and they were cold,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said. His team increased its lead in the NL East to 18 games over second-place Miami.
Major league home run leader Giancarlo Stanton went 0 for 3, and he’s 3 for 35 in the past 10 games. All three hits were homers, leaving him at 53 for the season.
The Marlins have lost nine of their past 10 games to fade from the NL wild-card race. They’ve scored five runs in the past four games.
“Ten days of this — I wish I had an answer for it,” manager Don Mattingly said. “I honestly don’t.”
Dillon Peters (0-1), who threw seven scoreless innings in his major league debut five days earlier, gave up three runs in five innings.
Zimmerman continued running after scoring from first on Howie Kendrick’s double and descended the dugout steps at top speed. Teammates laughed, but Baker said he feared his slugger would hurt himself.
“I could have stopped,” Zimmerman said. “I kept going. I said, ‘I might as well do something stupid.'”
Gonzalez wasn’t as sharp as the last time he pitched at Marlins Park, when he held Miami hitless until the ninth in a 1-0 victory. This time he had to pitch out of a none-out, bases-loaded jam in the fourth .
The left-hander improved to 10-3 with a 1.85 ERA in 16 games versus the Marlins, his hometown team.
Nationals slugger Bryce Harper acquired a new cornrow hairdo from the Marlins’ barber. Baker’s review: “Where I come from — California — you wouldn’t even notice it.”
Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (leg) is on schedule to make his next start Friday against Philadelphia, Baker said. … Closer Koda Glover (back), who has been sidelined since June, traveled to Texas for a second opinion, and his return this season appears unlikely.
Nationals: Washington returns home to begin a four-game series against the Phillies on Thursday, when RHP Tanner Roark (11-9, 4.48) is scheduled to pitch against RHP Aaron Nola (10-10, 3.72).
Marlins: Miami begins a four-game series in Atlanta on Thursday, with RHP Dan Straily (9-8, 3.91) scheduled to start against LHP Sean Newcomb (2-8, 4.31).
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