WASHINGTON — As they pursue their uphill wild-card bid into the season’s final week, the Nationals had another opponent to contend with Saturday night:

Mother Nature.

After a lengthy wait, persistent rain finally forced the postponement of the Nationals game against the Miami Marlins on Saturday night.

The teams, and a few thousand fans, waited nearly four hours from the 7:05 scheduled start time before an announcement was made shortly before 11 p.m.

The game was rescheduled as part of a split doubleheader Sunday with the first game starting at 1:35 p.m. and the second at 7:05 p.m.

Washington plays in St. Louis Monday night, while Miami hosts Philadelphia.

Neither team’s clubhouse was open to the media after the postponement was announced.

“I’d like to call it early and play a doubleheader. It’s easier on everybody,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said Saturday afternoon. “That said, we’ll probably be here until 1 (a.m.).”

Marlins manager Mike Redmond also said he expected that the teams would wait it out.

“From what I’ve heard, I think they want to play it tonight. Nobody really wants to play a doubleheader on our getaway day. I think we’ll sit this one out, wait it out and see what happens,” he said.

The details of the decision to wait nearly four hours, and then ultimately postpone the game, were not disclosed. The home team generally controls whether or not a game will start, but late in the season Major League Baseball and the umpires are part of the decision-making process.

The Nationals have won 12 of 14 and began the day five games behind Cincinnati and Pittsburgh for two NL wild card spots. Pittsburgh defeated the Reds 4-2 Saturday night.

The Marlins have lost six of seven.

Miami’s Tom Koehler (3-10, 4.51) opposes Dan Haren (9-13, 4.88) in the afternoon game, while Stephen Strasburg (7-9, 2.96), Saturday night’s scheduled starter for Washington, faces Brian Flynn (0-2, 9.64) Sunday night.

Strasburg will make his first start since Sept. 8.

On Sept. 13, the day before his next scheduled start, he felt tightness in his right forearm, so his start was pushed back to this past Thursday. On Wednesday, Strasburg couldn’t shake forearm tightness while trying to get loose for that start, so he was again pushed back, to Saturday.

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(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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