Nolasco battles through, benefits from Miami bats

Nolasco battles through, benefits from Miami bats

Nolasco battles through, benefits from Miami bats
MIAMI -- The Marlins' bats helped lift Ricky Nolasco out of a career-long funk.

Thanks to a four-run fifth inning, the Marlins snapped Nolasco's five-game losing streak and evened their three-game set with the Dodgers, 7-3, on Saturday night at Marlins Park.

"I was just trying to find a way today to limit the damage," Nolasco said. "The offense came through and put up some big runs and some big insurance runs."

Dodgers righty Joe Blanton gave the Marlins fits for four innings, as he held them to just one hit -- a Giancarlo Stanton double in the second inning -- and retired nine in a row between the second and fifth innings.

However, Miami finally solved Blanton in the fifth.

"He was rolling along, his pitch count [50] was down and doing what he wanted with the ball," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "All of a sudden the switch got flipped and he couldn't keep them from hitting the ball hard."

The Marlins strung together three straight one-out doubles to erase a two-run deficit. Pinch-hitting for Nolasco, Austin Kearns singled to put runners on the corners, and Gorkys Hernandez gave the Marlins a lead with a squeeze bunt down the first-base side, putting Nolasco in line for the win -- his first since July 6 against the Cardinals.

Justin Ruggiano then singled in Kearns to give the Marlins a 4-2 advantage.

"[Blanton] had a good mix of stuff going, but we stuck with it and continued to keep having good at-bats and made him pay when it counted," said John Buck, whose double tied the game.

Nolasco was far from perfect, giving up nine hits and walking one through five innings. He flirted with disaster -- and a six-game losing streak -- for most of his outing, but managed to avoid both.

"I think Ricky was surrounded by Houdini over there, because I don't know how he did it," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "David Copperfield tried to help him too, because he was hard to watch."

The Dodgers loaded the bases in both the first and second innings, but Nolasco escaped each frame unscathed. He got James Loney to fly out to center to strand three in the first. In the second, Matt Kemp came to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. Nolasco fell behind 3-0 before battling back to strike out Kemp.

A third-inning double play helped Nolasco erase another baserunner, as the Dodgers had seven men reach through the first three innings with no runs to show for it.

"It's just funny the way the game goes," Nolasco said. "Sometimes you pitch well enough to win and you lose, and sometimes you have no business being in the game and you just find ways."

The Dodgers got one run against the righty in both the fourth and fifth innings. Shane Victorino grounded into a fielder's choice, just beating out a double-play attempt to put L.A. up 1-0. 

Kemp singled to lead off the fifth and stole second before Andre Ethier drove him in to give the Dodgers a two-run advantage that the Marlins quickly erased in the bottom of the frame.

For the first time since his win in St. Louis -- which came just before the All-Star break -- Nolasco gave up fewer than four runs. During his five-game skid, Nolasco had a 7.16 ERA. Although he wasn't flawless Saturday, he pitched well enough to reverse his recent fortunes.

"The pitcher's job is to try to keep you in the game, no matter how ugly or how nice he is," Guillen said. "He did what he was supposed to do. Obviously he was hard to watch, but a zero is a zero. They only scored two runs against him. He kept us in the game and the bullpen did a tremendous job."

Miami's bullpen pitched the final four innings, but it wasn't without a bit of drama. Hanley Ramirez came to the plate as the tying run with two down in the seventh, but Mike Dunn got him to ground out to third.

While the four-run fifth proved to be enough, the Marlins added insurance runs in the eighth. Carlos Lee plated a pair with a double to the left-center-field gap, and he came around to score on Donovan Solano's single.

In all, it was a total team effort from the Marlins, who had six different players drive in a run. Nine different Marlins recorded a hit, and Nolasco was the only starter to not reach base.

"That's the way we're going to play," Guillen said. "We cannot lean on one or two guys to do that. Our lineup is not that strong. ... That's the way we're going to win games. We cannot be waiting for Giancarlo to drive in all the runs, or Carlos. We got to do it little by little. The little things will help."

Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.