WASHINGTON -- How long had it been since Brian Moehler was the winning pitcher in a major league game? So long that he couldn't remember anything about that last "W." Not the date, not the opponent, not the score.
Now that he's resurrecting his career with the pitching-rich Florida Marlins, the right-hander expects to keep the victories coming.
"First time in three years I've actually pitched with not any pain. I'm more thrilled with that than anything else," said Moehler, who spent last season in Double A after elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2003. "It makes it even better to know that I'm on a team that has a chance to win every time you come to the park."
In sweeping a two-game set at RFK Stadium to stretch their winning streak to three, the Marlins joined the Nationals atop the NL East at 8-6.
"I have to figure out some way for us to put runs on the board, especially early in the game," said Nationals manager Frank Robinson, who promised lineup changes Wednesday against Atlanta. "Let's get out of this thing before it becomes a problem, a nuisance, before somebody hits the panic button."
Moehler was helped by Washington's continued problems in the clutch: The Nationals went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position against him.
"We got guys on base -- we just couldn't knock 'em in tonight," said Brad Wilkerson, who didn't have any of Washington's 10 hits but walked twice and scored on Nick Johnson's single in the ninth.
Moehler is a bit of an afterthought in a Florida rotation that includes Josh Beckett, Dontrelle Willis, A.J. Burnett and Al Leiter. The club came into Tuesday leading the majors in team ERA (1.79) and opponent batting average (.200), and it still hasn't allowed more than four runs in any game.
Moehler allowed one run and six hits over five innings in his first victory since the Reds beat the Astros 9-3 on Aug. 16, 2002, and first decision since later that season. He walked two and struck out four.
Surprisingly, he outpitched Nationals ace Livan Hernandez, who allowed six runs on eight hits to fall to 1-2 with a 5.76 ERA. Hernandez walked Moehler to start Florida's bat-around third inning, and later complained about umpire Marvin Hudson's strike zone.
After his first home start -- a win -- Hernandez griped about holes in the RFK mound. That was fine Tuesday, he said.
"It's not a mound situation. It's a Livan situation," Hernandez said with a smile.
The pitcher who led the NL in innings and complete games the past two seasons lasted just five, and the Nationals had to go through five relievers to finish.
One of them, right-hander T.J. Tucker, left with a strained right groin. He'll go on the 15-day disabled list.
Moehler is all too familiar with such things. He went 47-50 from 1996-00 for a Tigers team that was 63 games under .500. His best year was 1998, when he had 14 wins, a 3.90 ERA and three shutouts. But he made just one start in 2001, then was sidelined by a torn rotator cuff. That began a series of injuries and team moves, before signing with Florida in December as a free agent.
"I've never been an overpowering pitcher, and I was thrust into that role when I was with Detroit," he said. "I never felt like I was the No. 1 guy, the No. 2 guy. I've felt like I was the No. 3, 4, 5 guy. ... I'm happy with this role."
He did enough to stymie a Washington team that's been giving up big innings. In each of their losses, the Nationals have allowed at least one four-run inning -- or worse.
"We had one of those innings again, where we couldn't close it out," Robinson said, "And that really took us out of the ballgame."
Juan Pierre, Luis Castillo, Miguel Cabrera, Juan Encarnacion and Paul Lo Duca each had a hit in the Marlins' third, and Delgado added a run with a sacrifice fly.
The one bit of good news for Washington?
Cristian Guzman went 3-for-4, lifting his average from .106 to .157.
"Hopefully, that'll be a start," Robinson said.
Hernandez drove in Washington's first run with a squeeze bunt in the second inning. Brian Schneider homered in the eighth. ... With Tucker out, the Nationals plan to move OF Alex Escobar (strained right quadriceps) from the 15-day to the 60-day DL, and to purchase the contract of RHP Hector Carrasco from Triple-A New Orleans.