WASHINGTON -- One day after a blown four-run lead nearly cost them the game, the Marlins' three-run lead on Saturday never felt completely safe.
Indeed, the advantage over the Nationals diminished before severe rain and wind struck at the start of the bottom of the ninth inning. Once it was all over, the two-hour, 33-minute rain delay that ensued only served to prolong the misery, as Heath Bell blew his seventh save of the season in giving up a game-tying home run to Jayson Werth.
Chad Gaudin entered in the 10th and allowed the Nats' first three runners to reach base before pinch-hitter Corey Brown's single to right field scored Ian Desmond, and the Nats walked away with a hard-fought 7-6 win over the Marlins at Nationals Park.
"It's frustrating and embarrassing and tired, losing games day in and day out the way we lose games," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We battle back all day, wait for three hours and lose a game like that. That doesn't hurt. It [ticks] you off. You feel like you're wasting a day of your life at the ballpark, getting paid for."
After Werth worked a full count in the ninth, Bell served up a 95-mph fastball that the leadoff man deposited deep to straightaway center field. One inning later, after Drew Storen struck out all three Miami batters he faced, singles by Adam LaRoche and Desmond put runners on the corners before Desmond stole second. With first base vacated, Gaudin intentionally walked Danny Espinosa to load the bases and get to Kurt Suzuki.
After fouling two pitches off, Suzuki bounced a grounder up the middle to left fielder Justin Ruggiano, who had moved in to serve as an extra infielder. Ruggiano fired home to nail LaRoche for the first out.
"Desmond was running from third base," Guillen said in explanation of crowding the infield. "Whatever ball in the outfield was going to score him anyway."
Then Brown strode to the plate to pinch-hit for Storen. He took one ball and then lofted a fastball from Gaudin high toward right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. The ball tailed away from Stanton and toward the right-field fence, and Stanton was only able to get part of his glove on it before dropping it. Desmond scored easily from third, sending the Nats' dugout flooding onto the field in jubilation.
"What I see is the same [stuff] all year long," Guillen said. "Blown games. That's the bottom line."
Bell, much maligned for his 2-5 record, 5.56 ERA and seven blown saves, warmed up before the rain delay. After it, his collapse left him despondent.
"It's been my year," Bell said. "I don't have any luck this year, plain and simple."
After the Marlins saw a 6-2 lead collapse before pulling out a 9-7 win on Friday night, Gorkys Hernandez opened Saturday's game with his first career leadoff homer, a shot to left field. Two batters later, Stanton ripped a 92-mph sinker from Nats left-hander Ross Detwiler over the Marlins' bullpen in left for a solo shot of his own.
Mark Buehrle threw seven innings, allowing three runs on five hits with five strikeouts and two walks. Detwiler, meanwhile, lasted five innings and allowed five runs (three earned) on seven hits.
"That's why you try to go deep into games," Buehrle said. "Obviously, you'd like to get every win you can, but this stuff kind of happens. You've got to turn the page. We had a long rain delay -- I guess it works both sides."
The Nationals got on the board in the bottom of the third with a solo homer by Jesus Flores. Washington scored again in the fourth on an Espinosa single to draw within 3-2.
Miami scored two runs in the fifth after Donovan Solano walked and then scored on a fielding error by LaRoche at first. Carlos Lee, who walked, scored on a single by John Buck. Ruggiano was nabbed at home, though, after Buck was caught in a rundown between first and second, and Espinosa fired to home plate.
Washington center fielder Bryce Harper homered in the bottom of the frame, a solo shot to the second deck in right-center that cut Miami's lead to 5-3.
In the seventh, the Marlins added another run, when with the bases loaded, Nats third baseman Ryan Zimmerman bounced a throw to first base on a Ruggiano grounder, allowing Solano to score.
The 6-3 score held until the bottom of the eighth, when right-hander A.J. Ramos relieved Buehrle and promptly hit Harper on his second pitch. After working a 2-0 count, Zimmerman homered to left to cut the Marlins' lead to 6-5. Following a Michael Morse single, left-hander Mike Dunn entered in relief. LaRoche singled after a six-pitch at-bat, and right-hander Ryan Webb was sent in for Dunn. The Nats loaded the bases with one out, but Webb got Espinosa to strike out swinging and Roger Bernadina looking.
The Marlins managed only a single in the top of the ninth, before the weather turned sour enough to force such a long delay.
Mike Fiammetta is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.