WASHINGTON -- Young and carefree, the Florida Marlins don't let setbacks bother them.
They simply deal with a problem and move on, much as they did after starting the season 20 games under .500.
Their starting pitcher walks the first three batters of the game? Hunker down and get out of the inning.
Their four-run lead vanishes in the bottom of the seventh? Get right back on top in the eighth.
"I'd almost say we don't know any better. It's just what's kind of happened all year long," said Willingham, whose 17th homer made it 3-0 in the fourth. "That's kind of what you get with a young team, but we're always going to fight to the end regardless of the score. That kind of sums up what we did tonight. They had their momentum and we came back and took it from them."
The Marlins led 4-0 and 6-2, then allowed the Nationals to bat around in a four-run seventh against relievers Sergio Mitre and Brian Moehler (6-8) that tied the game. But Florida scored two in the eighth off Ryan Wagner (0-1). Willingham led off with a single, Miguel Olivo also singled and Wes Helms delivered a two-run double.
"We didn't wait around," Helms said.
The Marlins are the youngest club in the majors, and they've used 21 rookies this season; six were in the starting lineup Thursday. Before games, they seem to be a loose bunch, laughing loudly as a dozen watch "Along Came Polly" on the clubhouse TV or cracking each other up while stretching on the field. After Thursday's win, Dontrelle Willis was trying to cajole clubhouse visitors to talk about how impressive his teammates' late-game poise was.
A loss to Tampa Bay on May 21 dropped them to 11-31, but since then the Marlins have gone 42-30, a .583 winning percentage that has them in third place in the NL East, ahead of perennial division champion Atlanta.
Yet another rookie, Anibal Sanchez -- like Ramirez, part of the trade that sent Josh Beckett to the Red Sox -- limited Washington to two runs on five hits, although he walked the first three batters he faced. A popup and 5-4-3 double play got him out of the first inning, drawing boos from the crowd of 21,304.
"To come away with nothing -- that's devastating, really," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said.
Alfonso Soriano hit his 36th homer, pausing to admire the shot, in the fifth, and a sacrifice fly made it 4-2.
Florida tacked on two more runs in the seventh, though, when reliever Travis Hughes hit pinch-hitter Cody Ross and gave up Uggla's two-run homer, his 18th of the year. Hughes also threw a wild pitch and plunked Miguel Cabrera on the left elbow.
Washington's big seventh began against Mitre, in his first appearance since coming off the disabled list. He threw 12 pitches -- all balls, going to a 3-0 count with three inside fastballs to Soriano, before hitting him.
"That surprised me when they tried to hit me, but it's part of the game," Soriano said.
Robinson was more upset, saying the umpire should have warned Mitre after the first inside pitch.
"The thing about it is, they were allowed to take four shots at him," Robinson said.
Marlins manager Joe Girardi said Mitre was simply trying to throw inside, Florida's strategy against Soriano. Mitre, a starter who went on the DL in May with inflammation in his pitching shoulder, then walked Felipe Lopez and Ryan Zimmerman on four pitches apiece.
He left, and Moehler gave up three run-scoring hits to make it 6-all. Despite all that, Moehler earned the win with his two innings of work, and Joe Borowski pitched the ninth for his 24th save.
"They don't ever feel like they're out of a game or like they can't come back and score more runs," Girardi said. "They just have a ton of energy and this time of year it pays off a little bit."
- The Nationals released OF Luis Matos and plan to recall RHP Jason Bergmann from Triple-A New Orleans.
- In the third, Uggla singled and Cabrera smacked a sinking liner to left. But Soriano made a shoetop catch, then threw the ball to first to beat Uggla back to the bag for a double play -- the ex-infielder's major league-leading 19th outfield assist. "Every day, I get surprised by my play in left field," Soriano said.