After forearm tightness twice kept Stephen Strasburg from making a career-high 29th start, heavy rain forced him to wait another day.
While Washington and Miami waited nearly four hours until Saturday's postponement, Cincinnati lost at Pittsburgh, trimming the Nationals' deficit for the NL's second wild-card spot to 4 1/2 games.
"We're not mathematically out of it yet," pitcher Jordan Zimmermann said. "So we've got to keep fighting until the end, and hopefully one of these other two teams tank."
Strasburg (7-9, 2.96 ERA) was shut down after his 28th start last season despite Washington (83-71) being in the middle of a pennant race en route to an NL East title. The right-hander looked like he would easily pass that mark until suffering his ailment Sept. 12 before a scheduled start against Philadelphia the next day.
Strasburg was slated to pitch Thursday's series opener against Miami but felt tightness in his forearm the day before while playing catch.
"He wanted to pitch (Thursday night)," manager Davey Johnson told the team's website. "It was my judgment. I said there's no need. I don't want a guy that has a little discomfort in his arm the day before he pitches. All these games are important, but his well-being is more important than him starting today."
Strasburg will make his first start since a 6-4 win in Miami on Sept. 8. He gave up four runs and four hits over six innings while striking out seven.
Strasburg is 2-2 with a 7.56 ERA in his last six starts against the Marlins after going 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA in his first seven.
The Nationals are 8-0 at home against the Marlins this year after outhitting them 11-2 in Friday's 8-0 victory. Denard Span went 2 for 5 with two RBIs the day after his 29-game hit streak ended.
The Marlins (56-98), losers in 12 of 15, will start rookie left-hander Brian Flynn (0-2, 9.64) opposite Strasburg. The left-hander walked just one Tuesday after issuing nine over eight innings in his first two big league starts, but gave up 11 hits and six runs over six innings of a 6-4 loss at Philadelphia.
Bryce Harper is 12 for 27 (.444) over his last seven games with seven RBIs, but is hitting .218 off lefties this year compared to .315 against right-handers.
Before Strasburg, Dan Haren (9-13, 4.88) will get the ball for Washington, opening a doubleheader for the second straight start. He retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced while throwing six innings of a 6-5 victory over Atlanta on Tuesday in the first game following Monday's Navy Yard shootings.
After posting an 11.37 ERA over three outings, he's since allowed one run over 12 innings in two starts.
Haren is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in three outings versus Miami this year, all on the road, receiving one run of support over 13 1-3 innings.
Starting for the Marlins in Sunday's first game will be Tom Koehler (3-10, 4.51), who is 0-4 with a 4.84 ERA in his last eight starts. The right-hander, however, pitched three-hit ball over eight scoreless innings in a 1-0 loss at the New York Mets on Sunday.
"As far as consistent quality, today was definitely up there," he told the team's website. "There have been some times where I felt like I had thrown the ball maybe like that for a couple of innings. Today was the first time I was able to push there and keep on going."
Koehler didn't fare nearly as well in his only start against Washington. He was tagged for six runs in five-plus innings in a 9-0 loss Aug. 29.
Jayson Werth went 2 for 3 against him with a three-run homer and Harper had a two-run shot.
Koehler enters this matchup after cutting a finger on his left hand while lifting weights.
"He should be fine," manager Mike Redmond said. "It's his glove hand."
|September 09, 2013||Jeff Mathis||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right thumb|
|September 08, 2013||Giancarlo Stanton||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right foot and ankle|
|September 02, 2013||Henderson Alvarez||Day-to-Day||Left game - tight right hamstring|
|September 01, 2013||Giancarlo Stanton||Day-to-Day||Right ankle|
|August 19, 2013||Placido Polanco||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 19, 2013||Placido Polanco||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|September 08, 2013||Bryce Harper||Day-to-Day||Left hip soreness|
|August 22, 2013||Ian Desmond||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|August 17, 2013||Taylor Jordan||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|August 13, 2013||Wilson Ramos||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left hamstring|
|August 11, 2013||Jayson Werth||Day-to-Day||Right knee|
|August 01, 2013||Ross Ohlendorf||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Nationals began Sunday with a ceremony honoring retiring manager Davey Johnson. By the end of the night, their playoff hopes were just about dashed.
Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich homered to lift the Miami Marlins to a 4-2 win in the opener of Sunday's day-night doubleheader, a result that clinched playoff berths for the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals.
Washington gained a split by winning the nightcap 5-4 when Wilson Ramos ' ninth-inning grounder bounced off the leg of third baseman Chris Coghlan for a game-ending error that allowed pinch-runner Eury Perez to score.
The Nationals trail NL wild-card co-leaders Cincinnati and Pittsburgh by five games with six to play.
"We aren't finished. I take nothing for granted," Johnson said. "I still think we got a good shot. We need to win them all. We do. Hey, I've been one strike, two runs down, one strike away, and we've come back. So don't lose the faith."
Rafael Soriano (3-3) pitched a scoreless ninth inning to win Washington's regular-season home finale, and Denard Span drove in three runs.
Jayson Werth doubled off Sam Dyson (0-2) leading off the ninth, and Perez pinch ran and stole third with one out.
Coming back from right forearm tightness that had kept him off the mound since Sept. 8, Stephen Strasburg allowed three runs and six hits in six innings and left with a 4-3 lead.
"He was actually awful," Johnson said. "He was. Every pitch he threw was up. He's got such great stuff, but everything was belt high."
Strasburg said: "I went out there and competed and that's all I can do."
Stanton hit a tying double off Tyler Clippard in the eighth.
With Washington trailing 3-2 in the sixth and runners on second and third, Span hit a smash past a diving Ed Lucas at first to make it 4-3.
Miami had been 0-8 at Nationals Park this season coming in and starter Tom Koehler (4-10) had been 0-4 in eight starts since Aug. 1. Koehler allowed two runs and three hits in six innings of the opener, and Steve Cishek pitched a perfect ninth for his 32nd save in 34 chances, completing a four-hitter and a scoreless afternoon for the Marlins' bullpen.
"You can't score six, seven runs every game," Washington's Ryan Zimmerman said. "(Koehler) pitched well and they've got some good arms in the back of their bullpen."
Cishek has converted 27 consecutive save chances, tying Todd Jones 2005 mark for the longest streak in club history.
"You know it's crazy. Out there I had a little more adrenaline pumping. It felt like a playoff atmosphere," Cishek said. "The fans are really into it and those guys are digging in there and every at-bat was huge for them. It felt good to come out and win a game like that."
Dan Haren (9-14) lost to Miami for the third time this year, giving up three runs and eight hits in six innings.
Stanton's 24th homer, a two-run drive after Yelich doubled, put the Marlins ahead in the first.
Yelich added a solo shot in the third.
Koehler, who shut out the Mets for eight innings while earning a no-decision in his last start, limited Washington to two singles over the first five innings.
Zimmerman homered in the sixth, his 26th of the season and 11th of September.
"Like I said before, I'm not very good at math, but I'm good enough to figure out that losing makes it tougher," Zimmerman said between games. "But we've just got to keep playing and see what happens."
Washington grounded into three double plays.
Donovan Solano drove in Miami's final run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
NOTES: Ian Desmond 's two stolen bases in the night game gave him his second straight season with at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases. ... Strasburg is the third fastest pitcher (426.1 IP) since 1900 to get to 500 strikeouts behind Kerry Wood (404.2) and Mark Prior (421.2). ... The Nationals won the season series 14-5. ... The ceremony honoring Johnson included a pair of video tributes and the presentation of an engraved Tiffany crystal keepsake. ... Stanton has hit safely in 23 of 29 games at Nationals Park with 13 home runs. ... Ian Desmond 's two stolen bases in the night game gave him his second straight season with at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases.