Marlins edge Reds behind Nolasco's strong outing
Ricky Nolasco stuck around long enough to benefit from another late rally by the Florida Marlins.
Nolasco pitched seven sharp innings, pinch-hitter Ross Gload connected for a two-run homer in the eighth and Florida beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 on Saturday night.
Jorge Cantu also homered for the Marlins, who scored four times in the ninth inning Friday to beat the Reds 4-3 and end a nine-game skid in Cincinnati that dated to April 2006. Florida remained four games behind wild card-leading Colorado, which beat Arizona.
"We just have to worry about ourselves," Nolasco said. "Sure we scoreboard watch, but the only thing we can control is our game. We don't care how we get in whether its the wild card or the division. We just want in."
Nolasco became the first Florida pitcher to last at least seven innings since Aug. 18, when he pitched a complete game in a 6-2 win at Houston. According to research by the Elias Sports Bureau, the Marlins had gone 29 consecutive games without a starter getting through the seventh inning, tying a major league record set by Florida in the last 29 games of the 2002 season.
"We just got in a funk for a while," Nolasco said. "We had been going six innings, but we have a good bullpen. There were plenty of times when we could have gone out there (for a seventh inning), but when the bullpen is going good, you go to them."
Nolasco (12-9) allowed two runs and four hits, struck out 10 and walked one while picking up his third win in his last four starts.
Brian Sanches pitched 1 1-3 innings, leaving with one out and a runner on first in the ninth. Dan Meyer got Jonny Gomes to fly out to center before Matt Lindstrom retired another pinch hitter, Scott Rolen, on a popup to shortstop Hanley Ramirez for his 15th save.
Ronny Paulino started the Florida eighth with a double to left off Bronson Arroyo. Cameron Maybin struck out before Gload drove a 1-0 pitch into the right-field seats for his second pinch homer and 19th hit in that role, tying the single-season club record.
"I never grew up wanting to be a really good pinch hitter, so I don't keep track," Gload said.
Gload and Wes Helms give manager Fredi Gonzalez two good late-game options.
"Gload has had some big hits for us," Gonzalez said. "Pinch hitting is a veteran job. We have Ross from the left side and Helms from the right. It is a two-headed monster. They know how to prepare and stay in the game. You just have to make sure you get them a start once in a while."
Arroyo (13-13) allowed three runs and six hits in eight innings, dropping to 5-5 with a 2.21 ERA in his last 14 starts.
"That was a good game, man," Arroyo said. "I didn't have the greatest fastball control after the third inning, so I was relying on my changeup, and I got some easy outs with it. I got the big hit, which I don't usually get, and then I gave it right back."
Drew Stubbs got the Reds off to a fast start, hitting Nolasco's second pitch into the seats in right-center field for his eighth homer in 129 at-bats since being called up from Triple-A Louisville on Aug. 19. The leadoff homer was his second in four days and third overall.
Ryan Hanigan went deep with two out in the seventh to give Cincinnati a 2-1 lead. It was his third homer of the season and first in 39 at-bats since Aug. 13.
Nolasco retired 14 consecutive batters and 17 of 18 before Hanigan's drive.
"When you look at the big picture, I threw the ball OK," Nolasco said. "I made a mistake to Hanigan that was unacceptable. The leadoff home run I was trying to get ahead and he just went with it and hit it out. Those things are going to happen, but I hung a curve to Hanigan and that can't happen. If Ross doesn't come up with that big hit, I ruined the game for us."
Lenny Harris set the Florida record with 19 pinch hits in 2005. ... The Reds activated C Ramon Hernandez from the 15-day disabled list. Hernandez had been out since July after having arthroscopic surgery to clean out his left knee. ... Tentative plans for RHP Johnny Cueto to start Sunday were scratched while Cueto continues to recover from flu-like symptoms. Manager Dusty Baker said he hopes Cueto can start Tuesday in Pittsburgh. ... Cincinnati LF Laynce Nix batted second for the first time this season.