MIAMI (AP) – At this point, not even Dontrelle Willis could help the Florida Marlins.

Seeking his 23rd victory, Willis instead gave up a career-high nine runs – four unearned – to the Washington Nationals, who beat reeling Florida 11-1 on Tuesday night.

The Marlins were mathematically eliminated from the wild-card race and fell into a tie with Washington for last place in the NL East.

Marlon Byrd homered, scored four times and tied a career high with four hits, including three off Willis (22-10). The Marlins committed three errors behind their ace, who trotted off the mound and out of the game after the first three batters reached in the fifth.

The dismal display was the latest in a series by the Marlins, whose turbulent September has included the banishment of pitcher A.J. Burnett and hints by manager Jack McKeon that he won’t return in 2006. Florida held a one-game lead in the NL wild-card race on Sept. 14 and has since lost 11 of 13 games, including the past five in a row, a season high.

Willis hurt his bid for the Cy Young Award by giving up nine runs and three walks, and his ERA rose to 2.59. He had little help: Florida’s errors all came in the first three innings, helping the Nationals score six runs, four unearned.

Jamey Carroll drove in three runs in the Nationals’ most lopsided win this year. They had 15 hits and left 13 men on base.

Mike Stanton (2-1) pitched two shutout innings for the win. Jon Rauch, making his first start of the year after recovering from a torn labrum, threw three scoreless innings and drove in the first run.

With both teams playing out the string, there was no sign of D-Train mania in the stands. The small crowd was so quiet that fans in the club seats behind home plate could hear Byrd’s two doubles off Willis slam against the scoreboard.

Willis was one strike from getting out of the second inning with the game scoreless, but he walked .211 hitter Gary Bennett on a 3-2 pitch with two outs to put runners at first and third.

Rauch topped a 1-2 pitch down the third-base line for a 60-foot RBI single. Brad Wilkerson pulled a two-hopper between first baseman Carlos Delgado’s legs, and the error scored a run. Carroll hit an RBI single.

Florida’s Mike Lowell, forced by a wave of injuries to play out of position at second base, made a diving stop of Preston Wilson’s grounder but threw wildly to first for another error, making it 4-0.

That was as many runs as Willis gave up in 21 innings over three previous starts this year against Washington.

The Nationals added two runs in the third on doubles by Ryan Zimmerman and Byrd, an error by rookie shortstop Robert Andino and a sacrifice fly by Bennett.

With the score 11-0, Miguel Cabrera singled home a run in the seventh to end the Marlins’ streak of 21 consecutive scoreless innings.

Notes: Willis batted eighth – the third time he has hit higher than ninth – and singled and walked, hiking his average to .258. … Byrd improved his average against left-handers to .322.

AP-ES-09-27-05 2218EDT


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.