Having Gio Gonzalez on the mound and a healthy Jayson Werth in the lineup could help them do it again as the NL East-leading Nationals open this four-game set with the Miami Marlins with a doubleheader Friday.
LaRoche is batting .325 with five homers in 20 games since the All-Star break, a stretch that started when he had three hits and two runs in a 5-1 victory at Miami on July 13. That win was also Washington's first against Johnson (6-7, 4.04 ERA), who had been 8-0 with a 3.31 ERA in his previous 15 starts against the division rival.
The Nationals (62-42) are expected to face Johnson in the second game of this doubleheader, and LaRoche will likely have a say if they're going to beat him again.
The first baseman is 7 for 24 against him lifetime, but four of those hits, including a pair of doubles, have come in six at-bats this year.
LaRoche is also entering this twinbill with a .432 average, four homers and nine RBIs in his last 10 games. He had a solo homer among his three hits and two RBIs in Thursday's 3-0 win over Philadelphia.
Werth hit behind LaRoche on Thursday, going 1 for 3 with an RBI in his return from a broken left wrist injury that sidelined him since May 6. Werth may be 4 for 17 versus Johnson, but LaRoche is happy to have him back as Washington tries to pad its 2 1/2-game lead over second-place Atlanta.
"It's huge to have him back, having him back in the lineup, back in the outfield, back in here," LaRoche said of Werth.
The sluggers may be looking to capitalize on Johnson's struggles on the road. The right-hander is 1-3 with a 5.48 ERA in eight starts outside Miami, but enters this meeting coming off two strong performances at home.
He went 1-0 in those outings, allowing two runs - one earned - and three hits with 13 strikeouts in 11 innings. Both of those runs, however, came Sunday, when he battled through five innings while tying a career high with six walks in a 5-4, 10-inning win over San Diego.
"Just a mess, but I found away to clean up, I guess," Johnson said. "I don't know how, but I made pitches when I needed to."
Gonzalez (13-5, 3.27) is scheduled to face Johnson, and he's among the NL leaders in wins and strikeouts (137). The left-hander, though, is 1-2 with a 4.84 ERA in four starts.
Gonzalez's struggles continued Sunday, surrendering five runs and a season high-tying five walks in six innings of an 11-10 win in 11 at Milwaukee.
He was charged with a 2-1 defeat in his only season meeting with the Marlins on July 14, allowing two runs and striking out nine in six innings.
The Nationals are expected to recall John Lannan (1-0, 2.57) from Triple-A Syracuse to start the first game. His only start this season came in the same scenario July 21. He allowed two runs and five hits and hit two batters in seven innings of a 5-2 win over Atlanta.
The left-hander, who went 10-13 in 2011 with Washington, is 6-10 with a 5.24 ERA in 19 starts in the minors. He's 0-4 with a 5.50 ERA in his last six starts against the Marlins, losing all three at home.
The Marlins, losers of 11 of 15 after falling 6-1 at Atlanta on Thursday, are scheduled to counter Lannan with a minor leaguer of their own in Brad Hand .
Hand is 8-5 with a 3.66 ERA in 22 starts for Triple-A New Orleans, and he's expected to be recalled in order to make his season debut.
The left-hander went 1-8 with a 4.20 ERA in 12 starts as a rookie with the Marlins last year. He went 0-1 with a 4.70 ERA in two meetings with the Nationals - both in Washington.
|July 29, 2012||Logan Morrison||15-Day DL||Right knee inflammation|
|July 23, 2012||Juan Carlos Oviedo||15-Day DL||Right elbow sprain|
|July 08, 2012||Giancarlo Stanton||15-Day DL||Arthroscopic right knee surgery|
|July 08, 2012||Hanley Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Right finger laceration|
|July 06, 2012||Giancarlo Stanton||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|June 30, 2012||Edward Mujica||15-Day DL||Fractured right pinkie toe|
|August 01, 2012||Henry Rodriguez||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|July 29, 2012||Adam LaRoche||Day-to-Day||Left game - Back tightness|
|July 22, 2012||Ian Desmond||15-Day DL||Torn left oblique|
|July 18, 2012||Jhonatan Solano||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|July 01, 2012||Chien-Ming Wang||15-Day DL||Strained right hip|
|June 30, 2012||Stephen Strasburg||Day-to-Day||Left game - heat exhaustion|
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It has been a disappointing season for the Marlins.
They opened a new ballpark in downtown Miami to less-than-capacity crowds, their huge expenditures on free agents haven't paid off, and they traded away slumping slugger Hanley Ramirez .
Even when the Marlins win, they don't have much fun.
With Josh Johnson one out away from a complete game, second baseman Emilio Bonifacio reinjured his left thumb on an infield hit, putting a damper on Miami's 5-2 win over the Washington Nationals that gave the Marlins a doubleheader split on Friday night.
Johnson allowed five hits in 8 2-3 innings, Jose Reyes had three hits, and Carlos Lee had three RBIs in the Game 2 victory.
In the first game, Adam LaRoche homered and drove in three runs, Mark DeRosa added three RBIs, and John Lannan pitched into the seventh inning as the Nationals beat the Marlins 7-4.
"Even though we won today, it's a very bad day for me," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said.
Bonifacio missed 46 games after thumb surgery in May, and Guillen thinks Bonifacio will miss the remainder of the season.
"I don't think he comes back this year. In my mind, I think he is gone. It's the same hand," Guillen said.
Johnson (7-7), now 9-1 against Washington, fell one out short of his first complete game since April 26, 2010.
He gave up two runs - one unearned - struck out nine and didn't walk a batter. He also had two hits.
Steve Cishek struck out the only batter he faced for his sixth save in nine chances.
Johnson was rumored to be available in a trade, but stayed with Miami past the July 31 deadline.
"I go out there for my teammates. I am not trying to prove anything to anyone," Johnson said.
Lee drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single in the sixth off Gio Gonzalez (13-6) and added a third RBI when Reyes, who led off the eighth with a double, scored from second on Lee's grounder to short.
In the ninth, Michael Morse singled just past second base with two outs. Bonifacio was injured trying to field the ball and flipped it away, allowing Bryce Harper to score the second run.
The Nationals still lead the NL East by two games over Atlanta and 14 1/2 over fourth-place Miami.
"It doesn't matter if they're 20 or 30 games under .500, you have to beat that guy that day. No team is going to roll over and give anybody any easy wins," Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said.
In the sixth, the Marlins scored three runs on five singles. Johnson singled with one out, and with two down, Donovan Solano singled, and Reyes had an infield single. Lee singled to center to score Johnson and Solano, and Greg Dobbs singled to drive in Reyes to make it 3-1.
Gonzalez worked a season-high eight innings, allowing four runs and nine hits. He struck out 10 and didn't walk a batter.
In the first game, LaRoche had a first-inning RBI single, a third-inning home run, and a bases-loaded walk in the fourth. He was hitless in the second game, ending his hitting streak at 11 games.
DeRosa, who missed nearly two months because of an oblique injury, doubled his RBI total for the season with a two-run single in the first and a bases-loaded walk in the fourth.
The Nationals scored seven runs off Brad Hand (0-1), who had been recalled from Triple-A New Orleans to start the game. Hand, 1-9 in his career, gave up six hits and six walks in 3 2-3 innings. He was returned to New Orleans after the game.
Lannan (2-0) allowed three runs and four hits in six-plus innings. After walking five and striking out four, Lannan was sent back to Triple-A Syracuse after the second game.
Tyler Clippard came in with two runners on in the ninth to earn his 22nd save in 24 chances.
NOTES: Reyes extended his hitting streak to 22 games. ... The Nationals acquired C Kurt Suzuki from Oakland for minor league C David Freitas. Current backup Sandy Leon , who caught the second game of the doubleheader, will probably be sent back to Double-A Harrisburg. To make room on the 40-man roster, Washington designated C Carlos Maldonado for assignment. ... The Marlins called up RHP Chris Hatcher to serve as the 26th man for the doubleheader. Hatcher pitched two scoreless innings in the first game. ... Miami 3B Donnie Murphy left the first game in the seventh inning because of a strained left hamstring and didn't play in the second game. ... Morse extended his hitting streak to 12 games. ... LHP Mark Buehrle (9-10, 3.60) will pitch for the Marlins on Saturday against RHP Jordan Zimmermann (8-6, 2.28).