It took three games, but the Marlins finally scored their first run of the season Thursday.
Their first win of 2013 will have to wait at least another day.
Justin Ruggiano’s home run snapped a streak of 19 consecutive scoreless innings to open the season and the Marlins posted their biggest offensive showing with eight hits.
But Miami still lost 6-1 on another chilly day as the Washington Nationals capped a series sweep.
“Obviously not the start we were looking for,” manager Mike Redmond said.
On a day when the temperature was 47 degrees at the first pitch, Wade LeBlanc allowed three runs, two of them earned, in five innings — enough to give Miami a chance.
But the Marlins’ offensive struggles were compounded by two errors and reliever Mike Dunn giving up a three-run home run to Jayson Werth in the seventh inning.
Miami’s highlight of the year so far came when Ruggiano hit Jordan Zimmermann’s first pitch of the second inning over the wall in right-center field wall at Nationals Park for the team’s first run of the season. That ended Washington’s bid to become the first team since the 1963 St. Louis Cardinals to open a year with three straight shutouts.
“After it (the homer), I came in (to the dugout and said), ‘Let’s go. Let’s go. Let’s score some more.’ But their guys did a pretty good job, too,” Ruggiano said. “They got big outs and double plays when they needed to.”
The Nationals, behind Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez, blanked the Marlins in the first two games 2-0 and 3-0, respectively. But the 19 straight scoreless innings surpassed the Marlins’ previous record of 13 in a row to start the 1996 season.
“Cold days, cold nights tend to result in a little bit less of an offensive production,” Ruggiano said. “We’ve got a young team. We’re all maybe a little amped up. We’ll settled down. I think the good news right now is our pitchers are doing pretty good right now.”
The Nationals had no trouble with their offense Thursday. Playing in front of a crowd of 25,123, they scored twice in the first inning on a two-run double by Ryan Zimmerman.
Bryce Harper had two more hits for the Nationals, making him 6-for-12 for the series with two homers, both on Opening Day. He was mildly shaken up in the first inning when he slid across home plate and was hit in the face by Marlins catcher Rob Brantly’s arm.
Washington scored its third run in the third inning when the Marlins made two errors. Denard Span opened with a drag bunt single up the first-base line. He wound up at second when LeBlanc tried to flip the ball to first base with his glove. The ball got past Greg Dobbs and rolled down the right-field line.
Span scored on a single by Harper, who advanced to second when Giancarlo Stanton’s throw from right field got past Brantly. The Marlins scored a moral victory against Harper when he was caught trying to steal third in the inning.
LeBlanc said he didn’t think Miami’s starters are feeling extra pressure because of the lack of run support.
“We want to throw up zeroes regardless of whether they’re scoring 50 runs or zero,’’ he said.
The Marlins opened the sixth inning with singles from Brantly and Donovan Solano, but Aideny Hechavarria bounced into a double play and pinch hitter Austin Kearns bounced out.
Stanton went 0-for-2 with two walks and a strikeout. He was 1-for-9 in the series with four strikeouts and three walks.
“It’s three games. I don’t think anyone is really panicking,” Ruggiano said. “We’re just trying to get settled in and get to know each other and get comfortable. We’ll be all right.”
The Marlins open a three-game series Friday night in New York against the Mets before they return home Monday for their Marlins Park season opener against the Atlanta Braves.
A loss Friday would mark the third time in franchise history, and the first since 2001, that the Marlins opened the season with four straight losses. The Marlins have never lost their first five games of a season.
The Marlins went into Thursday ranking last in the major leagues in key offensive categories – batting .123 with a .180 on-base percentage and a .158 slugging percentage.