Nolasco tosses 4-hitter to lead Marlins over Nats
WASHINGTON (AP) Miami's Ricky Nolasco has been on a roll of late. Just ask the NL East-leading Washington Nationals.
Nolasco tossed a four-hitter to shut out Washington for the second time in two weeks and Giancarlo Stanton homered for the third straight day to lead the Marlins to an 8-0 win over the Nationals on Sunday.
The Marlins won two of three games in the weekend series against the Nationals (86-54), whose division lead slipped to 5 1/2 games over Atlanta after the Braves beat the New York Mets 3-2 in 10 innings.
"I'm just trying to finish strong. I felt pretty good today," Nolasco said. "This type of offense will put runs up against you quick. I was just trying to pitch smart, trying to pitch to a good location and make them put the ball in play."
Nolasco (12-12), who won his third straight and notched his fourth career shutout, also shut out the Nationals 9-0 on Aug. 28 against Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander struck out six and walked one, stifling a team that had scored 43 runs in its five previous games.
"He can get nasty when he starts throwing that changeup and that curveball and hitting the corners with his fastball," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.
"More strikes," Marlins manage Ozzie Guillen said. "I think you see late in the game he's throwing upper 90's, 93, 94, in the last inning just because early in the game he wasn't deep in the count and behind people."
Nolasco started the season 4-0, but dropped five straight decisions in July and early August.
"I had a little grey cloud there in the middle of the season, but making 32 starts a year it's tough to be good in all of them," he said. "I had some bad starts, not getting deep into games like I should, but you've gotta stay strong mentally. You know it's a grind, keep grinding."
Stanton hit the first pitch of the seventh inning just over the wall in left for his 33rd homer of the season. He has 11 homers and 20 RBIs in 20 career games in Nationals Park.
"This place is pretty good to me," he said.
Despite missing a month of the season, Stanton is only one home run behind his total for 2011, when he played 150 games.
"This kid is a special one. Every time he makes contact he's gonna hit the ball hard," Guillen said. "When he knows how to have an idea about what (pitchers are) doing to him, it's going to be great to see him at the plate. There's no doubt this kid's gonna hit."
Pitching on his 29th birthday, Nationals starter Edwin Jackson (9-10) lasted just 4 2-3 innings, giving up six earned runs on nine hits.
The Marlins broke out in the top of the second. With two outs, Dobbs and Donovan Solano grounded singles up the middle. Rob Brantly followed with another single up the middle, just beyond the reach of a diving Steve Lombardozzi, to score Dobbs.
Nolasco then hit a drive to deep center. Harper went back on the ball, caught up to it, but lost it in the sun. The ball fell beside him and Solano and Brantly scored with Nolasco ending up on second with a double.
"It was nasty. Big sun. Clear, blue sky. You needed to have your hand up there to block it. It was that bright," Johnson said. "And Bryce, he was tracking it and if you can't get your glove up there to block the sun and then at the last minute go to it, you're dead."
In the fourth, Solano led off with a walk and advanced to second on a groundout. With two outs, Bryan Peterson singled home Solano and Justin Ruggiano's double to the wall in left-center scored Peterson.
In the fifth, Stanton singled and stole second. He went to third on a bloop single to left by Dobbs and scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Solano.
"He did something today I want him to do, steal more bases," Guillen said. "When you steal bases and they want to pitch around you, they've got to think about it. You might steal second to."
NOTES: The last-place Marlins and first-place Nationals split the season series 9-9. ... Jackson was bidding to become Washington's fourth 10-game winner along with Gio Gonzalez (18), Strasburg (15) and Jordan Zimmerman (10). . CIA Director David Petraeus, former Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Washington begins a three-game series at the New York Mets on Monday with Gonzalez (18-6, 2.98 ERA) opposing Collin McHugh (0-1, 3.27). ... Miami continues its road trip in Philadelphia on Monday. Wade LeBlanc (2-3, 2.72) starts for Miami against Kyle Kendrick (8-10, 3.96).
Updated September 9, 2012