Nolasco’s CG gem leads Marlins over Astros

Houston, TX (Sports Network) – Ricky Nolasco pitched a brilliant three-hitter to lead the Florida Marlins to a 6-2 win over the Houston Astros in the opener of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park.

Nolasco (9-8) surrendered two runs on two first-inning hits and was virtually untouchable thereafter to notch his third career complete game. Nolasco recorded 10 strikeouts, did not walk a batter and retired 23 consecutive batters until an infield single in the ninth.

“He retired 23 batters in a row — he had great command,” said Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez about Nolasco. “To throw a complete game against that lineup in this park, he deserves a tip of the cap.”

Jeremy Hermida produced three hits, including a home run, and two RBI for Florida, which has won eight of its last 10 games overall and remained 4 1/2 games behind the Phillies in the NL East.

The Marlins, who also received home runs from Dan Uggla and Jorge Cantu, recorded 11 hits and have now recorded 10-plus hits in 14 consecutive games. The all-time record is 15 straight games, held by the 1937 St. Louis Browns.

Carlos Lee homered for the Astros, who have dropped four of their last five contests.

Bud Norris (3-1) suffered the loss after he allowed five runs on nine hits over 5 2/3 innings.

In the bottom of the first inning, the Astros grabbed a 2-0 lead on Lee’s 20th home run of the season. Lance Berkman doubled with two outs and scored when Lee turned on a fastball and belted it over the wall in left field.

Florida tied the score with a pair of runs in the fourth inning. Hanley Ramirez led off with a base hit and eventually crossed the plate via a sacrifice fly by John Baker. Uggla’s solo home run — his 22nd of the campaign — made it 2-2.

The top of the sixth saw the visitors move ahead with three runs. Cantu’s one- out solo homer to left put the Marlins ahead before Baker doubled. The combination of an Uggla infield single and Cody Ross being hit by a pitch loaded the bases for Hermida, whose single brought home Baker for a 4-2 advantage. A bases-loaded walk issued to Chris Coghlan later in the frame capped the rally.

Hermida’s solo home run in the eighth capped the scoring.

Nolasco was simply unhittable after the first frame, as he worked seven consecutive perfect innings from the second through the eighth. Michael Bourn’s one-out infield single in the ninth halted the 23 straight outs for Nolasco, but two quick fly balls ended the game.

“I tried to get ahead in the count and mix up my pitches,” said Nolasco. “I have a great defense behind me, and that makes it much easier.”

Game Notes

Nolasco tossed 115 pitches, 80 for strikes. His 2009 earned run average is now 5.22…Ramirez stole his 23rd base of the season…Prior to the game, the Astros placed pitcher Mike Hampton on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder strain and recalled pitcher Felipe Paulino from Triple-A Round Rock…The contest was completed in a swift 2 hours, 25 minutes.


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