- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

MIAMI —  The postgame scene in the Washington Nationals clubhouse included a smoke machine, strobe lights and blaring music, which created an atmosphere akin to a South Beach nightclub.

Following a woeful weekend, the Nationals had something to celebrate Monday.

Jordan Zimmermann became the first starter to pitch seven innings this season for the Nationals, and they totaled 11 extra-base hits to beat the slumping Miami Marlins 9-2.

The rout came after the Nationals were swept in a three-game series at Atlanta.


“That was a tough weekend, but they responded,” manager Matt Williams said. “They came out today and played hard.”

The Marlins endured their eighth loss in a row.

“The only way we can get out of this thing is somebody needs to step up, go out there and say, ‘It’s over, I’m done with it,’” manager Mike Redmond said. “We either need a big pitching performance or a big hit or a big play to spark us to get us going. Those guys understand that, and hopefully it will come Tuesday.”

Bryce Harper had two doubles and an RBI triple for Washington. He has batted .520 over his past seven games to boost his average to .348.

Harper came out of the game as a precaution in seventh inning after he slipped running the bases. He said he has been nursing a sore thigh muscle.

“It has been tight since Friday, but nothing too serious,” Harper said. “I’m ready to go Tuesday.”

Catcher Sandy Leon hit his first career home run, while Tyler Moore also homered and had an RBI single. Anthony Rendon drove in three runs with a double and a triple, and Danny Espinosa doubled and tripled.

“It was a fun night,” Moore said in the smoke-filled clubhouse. “We needed that after three tough losses in a row. We’re just trying to turn the page. We swung the bats good, and Jordan pitched great.”

Zimmermann (1-0) bounced back from the shortest start of his career. After lasting only 1 2-3 innings when he gave up five runs against Miami last week, he lowered his ERA from 8.10 to 5.27, allowing two runs while striking out seven.

“It was a lot better today,” he said. “I was getting ahead with the fastball. When I’m able to get ahead, I can throw everything else where I want and when I want. When I fall behind, that’s when I run into trouble.”

The right-hander gave up a homer to Garrett Jones but tied the Nationals record of 44 career victories set by Livan Hernandez. Zimmermann also had two of the Nationals’ season-high 16 hits.

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