GAME IN A NUTSHELL: Losers of three straight, the Nationals knew they needed to string together some hits and plate more than a couple runs Saturday off Tom Koehler. That proved far more challenging than they could've anticipated, forcing Stephen Strasburg to be near-perfect to have a chance to win this game.
Strasburg wasn't perfect — he gave up two runs in the fourth and another two runs in the sixth — and that put the Nationals in a 4-run hole. Which, given the current state of their lineup, feels like a much larger deficit.
The Nats never could get anything going against Koehler (who tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings) or the Marlins bullpen. And when Rafael Martin served up a pair of homers in the eighth, this game turned into a legitimate rout. As such, the Nationals were shut out for the first time this season. At 7-11, they're 4 games under .500 for the first time since Aug. 19, 2013 (60-64) and 7 games back of the Mets in the NL East.
HITTING LOWLIGHT: When you don't advance one runner to third base in an entire game, it pretty much qualifies as an overarching lowlight. The entire offensive performance in this one was abysmal, with the Nats managing seven singles and a walk off Koehler and Co. They only had three at-bats with runners in scoring position, going 0-for-3 in the process. It's one thing to fail to deliver in big spots. It's another to not even give yourself more than a handful of big spots.
PITCHING LOWLIGHT: At times during this game, Strasburg was utterly dominant. He blew away three straight hitters, all strikeouts, during the top of the fifth. But sandwiched around that perfect frame were a pair of 2-run innings in which the Marlins racked up six hits. Strasburg got into trouble in the fourth when he served up back-to-back doubles to Martin Prado and Giancarlo Stanton, then allowed another RBI single to Justin Bour. He opened the sixth by walking Stanton, then giving up singles to Marcell Ozuna and Bour. No, it wouldn't have mattered how he pitched given the Nationals' offensive woes, but Strasburg needed to be better than this on this day.
KEY STAT: Bryce Harper has now drawn a walk in 10 straight games, most in Nationals club history.
UP NEXT: The series wraps up at 1:10 p.m. EDT Sunday when Miami native Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 3.44) faces former teammate Dan Haren (1-1, 3.32).