Bryce Harper trudged back to the Washington Nationals' dugout, bat still in his hand. He fumed over the weak flare he slapped to end a nine-pitch at-bat. As he walked down the steps that lead to the visitor's clubhouse at Marlins Park, Harper snapped the partially broken bat in two over his knee. A shard of wood shot into the air, and he disappeared down the tunnel.

Frustration filled the Nationals' 5-3 loss to the Miami Marlins on Monday night, a defeat that left them with a split series against a reeling opponent. They held the Marlins scoreless in every inning but two. They hit into four double plays, two of them on line drives. They stranded 10 men on base and went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position. Line drives found gloves and sharply hit balls killed rallies. Despite three hits each from Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa and Michael Morse, they walked off the field with only thoughts of what could have been a happy plane ride home.