Sanchez strong as Marlins blank Nats
Fortified by his mother's pancakes, Anibal Sanchez was unhittable for 100 pitches Sunday.
Sanchez took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and struck out a career-high 11 to help the Florida Marlins salvage the final game of their series against Washington, 8-0.
The announced crowd of 10,523 included Sanchez's mother, Evelia, visiting from Venezuela.
''She made me breakfast this morning, so that's why I threw a game like that,'' Sanchez said.
But shouldn't he be the one doing the cooking on Mother's Day?
''I'm supposed to,'' he said with a smile, ''but I'm the baby.''
Sanchez (2-1) allowed two hits and walked none in seven innings before departing after throwing 117 pitches on a sunny, 86-degree afternoon. Manager Edwin Rodriguez jokingly blamed the conditions for belatedly realizing how well Sanchez was pitching.
''In the sixth inning I didn't know there was a no-hitter going,'' Rodriguez said. ''It took me by surprise. My pitching coach and bench coach let me know. They thought I was kidding, but I didn't know. It was hot out there.''
The performance was pivotal for the Marlins (20-13), who broke a three-game losing streak. They're still off to the best start in franchise history heading into a three-game series beginning Monday against NL East leader Philadelphia.
''This sets the tone going into the next series,'' catcher John Buck said. ''We were a little flat, a little stale. For Anibal to step up and do that for the team, that was huge. I definitely feel a lot better now that we played that good game.''
Gaby Sanchez, using a pink bat and pink shoes in observance of the holiday, hit a three-run homer, doubled twice, singled and scored three runs.
He ruled out going with pink again Monday.
''Absolutely not,'' he said. ''I'll take those home with me. They did me one day, but tomorrow I'll be wearing my other things.''
Michael Morse followed Nix's hit with a one-out single in the seventh, but Sanchez retired the next two batters to end the inning and his afternoon. He received a standing ovation and waved as he walked to the dugout.
Sanchez threw a no-hitter as a rookie in 2006, and he took one into the ninth inning April 22 against Colorado before Dexter Fowler broke it up with none out.
''He's a good pitcher,'' said Washington's Jerry Hairston, who went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. ''There's a reason why he has thrown a no-hitter before. When you're getting every pitch over for strikes and hitting your spots, it's tough to hit.''
Livan Hernandez (3-4) allowed six runs in five innings, which was no match for Sanchez. The Marlins right-hander struck out the side in the second and fifth innings, and he retired 12 in a row after hitting Danny Espinosa with a pitch to start the third.
''I'm not a strikeout pitcher, but they took a lot of swings at the ball in the dirt,'' Sanchez said. He improved to 6-0 with an ERA of 2.16 in 15 career starts against Washington.
Sanchez had plenty of offensive support from a team that scored a total of seven runs during the three-game losing streak. Chris Coghlan ended an 0-for-14 drought, and Hanley Ramirez kept his average from dipping below .190 when he singled home a run in the fifth.
The Marlins took their first lead in the series in the second when Gaby Sanchez doubled and scored on a double by Dobbs. The combination clicked again in the fourth, when Sanchez doubled and Dobbs singled him home.
Sanchez's fifth homer made it 6-0 in the fifth.
Notes: Morse was back in the lineup after missing four starts with a sore right knee. RF Jayson Werth, who is 2 for 22 lifetime against Sanchez, was given the day off. ... Rodriguez dropped Coghlan from leadoff to second for the first time this season, and Emilio Bonifacio moved into the leadoff spot. ... The Nationals' recent run of fielding gems continued, with left fielder Morse, second baseman Espinosa and shortstop Ian Desmond robbing the Marlins of hits. ... Florida's best defensive play was by Stanton, who ran into the railing to make a running basket catch of Desmond's long pop foul in the sixth.