WASHINGTON – Ricky Nolasco rebounded from a rough start by taking a shutout into the seventh inning, Mike Stanton homered for the second consecutive game, and the Florida Marlins beat the Washington Nationals 5-0 Thursday night to complete a three-game sweep.
Using his biting slider, Nolasco (13-8) struck out eight batters in six-plus innings, allowing six hits and one walk.
Stanton hit a two-run homer off Livan Hernandez (8-8) in the second, when umpires checked a replay of the drive and ruled it cleared the fence. That gave the rookie a hit in six straight at-bats after going 5 for 5 Wednesday.
Thursday's start was delayed 1 hour, 57 minutes because of rain. Only dozens of fans were still around when the game ended at 12:23 a.m.
Nolasco earned his eighth win in his past 10 outings. In his previous start, a loss against the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 6, the right-hander gave up seven runs and 10 hits in five innings.
But he was much sharper Thursday, retiring eight straight batters in one stretch.
Nolasco did find himself in a tough spot in the fifth, when an infield single, a walk and a hit batter loaded the bases with two outs for Adam Dunn, who entered the day leading the NL with 31 homers. With the count full, Nolasco got Dunn to strikeout on a slider.
After a 1-2-3 sixth, Nolasco ran into problems again in the seventh, which began with two singles in a row. But reliever Jose Veras got Alberto Gonzalez to ground into a double play and Roger Bernadina to fly out. Clay Hensley and Burke Badenhop finished the shutout.
Hernandez gave up three runs, seven hits and four walks in his 6 1-3 innings against the team he helped lead to a championship as MVP of the 1997 World Series.
Stanton's 12th homer landed above the out-of-town video scoreboard, and the ball rattled around a metal fence along the green outfield wall, then bounced back onto the field. So Stanton stopped at third base with an apparent triple, until the umpiring crew left the field for a video review and decided the ball left the park.
In Florida's 9-5 victory Wednesday, Stanton became the second-youngest player — at 20 years, 276 days — to have five hits and drive in four runs in a game since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Only one other Marlins player had those stats in a game: Gary Sheffield, in September 1995 against Colorado.
After Cody Ross' RBI single in the third made it 3-0, Stanton walked to load the bases, but Hernandez struck out Donnie Murphy. Stanton's first out since Tuesday came when he popped out in foul territory in the sixth.
Florida added two runs off Craig Stammen — on a wild pitch in the eighth and Dan Uggla's RBI single in the ninth.
NOTES: The Marlins hadn't swept a three-game series in 2010, although they did take all four of a four-game set against the Mets in May. ... Florida C Ronny Paulino took Thursday off, replaced in the lineup by Brett Hayes. Manager Edwin Rodriguez said Paulino "is a little bit tired," and Hayes "is going to see more action." ... Nationals LF Josh Willingham was out of the lineup for a second straight game because of a left knee problem he said has "something to do with cartilage" and possibly could require offseason surgery. Willingham said the knee first bothered him in April and flared up again a couple of weeks ago. "I'm going to play until either it blows out or I can't take the pain anymore or I feel like I can't be effective," Willingham said. Manager Jim Riggleman expects to put Willingham back in the lineup Friday.