Marlins 3, Diamondbacks 2
Every year about this time, Ricky Nolasco gets his game in high gear. This season is no exception.
Nolasco won his fourth straight decision and Dan Uggla drove in two runs with a bloop single and a broken-bat infield hit to lead the Florida Marlins to a 3-2 victory over Dan Haren and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night.
Nolasco (9-6) allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking three. The right-hander didn't alllow a home run for the first time in five starts. He entered the game the NL leader in that category with 20.
''I feel like I'm a person it's going to take me some innings to get it all together and get going,'' Nolasco said.
He said he doesn't want to be known as a slow starter.
''Nobody wants to go out there and do that,'' Norasco said. ''This pitching in the big leagues isn't easy. Obviously for all the pitchers it takes awhile to get going, and for me I guess it just takes a couple of months, or whatever it is.''
Clay Hensley struck out the side for Florida in the eighth, then Leo Nunez, apparently none the worse for wear after being knocked on his backside while sitting on a chair in a bullpen collision with right fielder Mike Stanton on Thursday night, threw a perfect ninth for his 19th save.
Haren (7-7), 0-3 in his last five starts, gave up three runs and 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings. One of the best hitting pitchers in the game, Haren came within inches of a grand slam in the fourth inning when Stanton caught it at the top of the fence in right field.
''I just thought, `No way,''' Norasco said of his feelings as he watched the ball sail.
Stanton said he was ''just glad I was able to catch it.''
Haren said Stanton ''was playing me really shallow.''
''I hit it a little higher than the home run I hit (in St. Louis),'' Haren said. ''It kind of hung up just long enough, but the guy is a good athlete and made a real nice play.''
Florida improved to 6-5 with two games remaining in its longest road trip of the season, a journey that began with a three-game series against the New York Mets in Puerto Rico.
''It seems like forever,'' Uggla said.
Haren left with two outs in the seventh after Uggla's broken-bat hit dribbled past the mound. Third baseman Mark Reynolds fielded it bare-handed but his throw to first was just late and Florida led 3-1.
Interim manager Kirk Gibson said Haren jammed Uggla with ''a great pitch.''
''It was just unfortunate. There is no way to explain that,'' Gibson said. ''He pitched a very good game, very strong, good enough to win.''
Haren struck out six and walked two. Arizona's workhorse starter threw 118 pitches and is averaging 116 in his last eight starts.
Uggla is known as a slugger, but he didn't connect solidly on either of his two big hits.
''You have to give him credit,'' manager Edwin Rodriguez said. ''Both of them came with two strikes, so he's doing something right.''
Uggla admitted he was a bit lucky.
''Put that thing in play and see what happens,'' he said. ''In all seriousness, I was fortunate for those balls to fall and have them go in the right spot. I'll take them everyday, all day.''
Chris Young, Arizona's representative in the All-Star game, got his 60th RBI of the season with a run-scoring groundout to shortstop to cut the lead to 3-2 in the seventh. Stephen Drew led off the inning with a double, then Gerardo Parra walked. Pinch-hitter Augie Ojeda advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Young had 42 RBIs last season.
Notes: After Thursday night's game, the Marlins optioned RHP Tim Wood to Triple-A New Orleans and selected the minor league contract of LHP Dan Meyer. ... Florida is 8-14 against the NL West. ... Arizona 2B Kelly Johnson has hit safely in 19 of his last 21 home games. ... Arizona signed fourth-round draft pick RHP Kevin Munson and assigned him to Class A South Bend. The Diamondbacks agreed to terms with seventh-round pick RHP Jeffrey Shields. ... The Diamondbacks have lost in Haren's last five starts. ... Reynolds fanned three times and leads the majors with 119 strikeouts. He is a shade off his pace of a year ago when he set the major league record for the second straight season with 223.