Marlins righty throws second shutout against Washington
The Nationals faced Marlins starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco just 12 days ago and did not have much fun that night in Miami.
The sequel Sunday afternoon at National Park left them just as frustrated. Nolasco pitched his second consecutive shutout against Washington as the Marlins left town with an easy 8-0 victory and a series win.
Nolasco allowed just four hits and a walk and struck out six batters. On Aug. 28 in Miami he gave up five hits, didn't walk anyone and also struck out six. The games were virtual replays as the Marlins won that first one 9-0. Needless to say, the Nats are fine with not seeing the 29-year-old right-hander again this season.
"He can be tough. Just depends which guy shows up, and today he had really good stuff," Washington outfielder Jayson Werth said. "I thought he was really tough to pick up today for whatever reason. He pitched a good game. What are you gonna do?"
Nolasco is just 12-12 this season with a 4.40 ERA -- and that includes one earned run allowed in his last 25 innings pitched. But he has a fine change-up, a solid curveball and consistently cut his fastball inside on Washington's left-handed batters -- it had five, including switch hitters, in the lineup.
"Normally I would say yes. But I guess not in this case," first baseman Adam LaRoche said when asked whether it should have been an advantage to have seen Nolasco so recently. "He was the exact same pitcher. We knew what we getting. We knew what he has. He just locates to the point that you look up and it's 0-2, 1-2 in your at-bat and you're grinding."
Miami had no such troubles with Nats starter Edwin Jackson, who wasn't great but also didn't get much luck, either. With both third baseman Ryan Zimmermann and shortstop Ian Desmond getting days off, the range on the left side of the infield wasn't up to its usual elite standard. Three consecutive Marlins singles in the second inning just eluded nearby infielders.
The last hit brought home the game's first run on Rob Brantly's RBI single. But the next play proved costly. A bright blue sky and high sun created treacherous outfield conditions all day. Rookie outfielder Bryce Harper, playing shallow with Nolasco at the plate, broke back on a fly ball to deep center. He reached the spot but didn't have time to shield his face with his glove and lost the ball in the light. It fell for a two-run double.
"That's part of the game. Sometimes it happens," Jackson said. "[Harper is] a guy who makes plays for us more times than not. As a starting pitcher, you just have to work around that."
Washington fell to 86-54 and lost a game in the National League East standings to the second-place Atlanta Braves, who beat the New York Mets 3-2 on Sunday and closed to within 5? games. The Nats finished 8-3, however, on their season-high 11-game homestand.