Marlins complete three-game sweep of Nationals

WASHINGTON -- Mike Stanton hardly felt at his best Thursday.

A sore throat kept him from sleeping much the night before. He decided he needed to head out and buy some medicine. But a storm left him soaked on his walk to the store, and then the stuff he bought to soothe his throat didn't really work.

No matter. Stanton homered for the second consecutive game to stretch his hit streak to six at-bats, and Ricky Nolasco rebounded from a rough start by taking a shutout into the seventh inning, leading the Florida Marlins past the Washington Nationals 5-0 Thursday night to complete a three-game sweep.

"The kid is unbelievable," Nolasco said about Stanton. "This is just a small glimpse of what we're going to see."

Added Nolasco (13-8): "It's going to be fun to watch, and I'm glad I don't got to face him."

Nationals pitchers did, though, and Stanton went 8 for 12 with two homers, three doubles and six RBIs in the series.

He hit a two-run homer off Livan Hernandez (8-8) in the second inning Thursday, when umpires checked a replay of the drive and ruled it cleared the fence. Stanton's 12th homer landed above the out-of-town video scoreboard, and the ball rattled around a metal fence along the green outfield wall, then bounced back onto the field. So Stanton stopped at third base with an apparent triple, until the umpiring crew left the field for a video review and decided the ball left the park.

"We knew it was a home run. I heard it hit the metal back there, over the fence," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "They got the call right."

In Florida's 9-5 victory Wednesday, Stanton went 5 for 5, including a homer and two doubles. That made him the second-youngest player -- at 20 years, 276 days -- to have five hits and drive in four runs in a game since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Only one other Marlins player had those stats in a game: Gary Sheffield, in September 1995 against Colorado.

Stanton walked in his second plate appearance Thursday, then made his first out since Tuesday by popping up in the sixth.

"That swing. That powerful swing," Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "He's one of those guys that, irregardless of the score of the game, the fans have to stay till the end of the game, because he's going to make history any time."

Only dozens of fans were around when this game ended at 12:23 a.m.; the start was delayed 1 hour, 57 minutes because of rain.

Using his biting slider, Nolasco struck out eight batters in six-plus innings, allowing six hits and one walk.

Nolasco earned his eighth win in his past 10 outings. In his previous start, a loss against St. Louis on Aug. 6, the righty gave up seven runs and 10 hits in five innings.

But he was much sharper Thursday, retiring eight straight batters in one stretch.

"Honestly, I felt better my last start than I did tonight," Nolasco said. "So today I just tried to not to do too much."

He found himself in a tough spot in the fifth, when an infield single, a walk and a hit batter loaded the bases with two outs for Adam Dunn, who entered the day leading the NL with 31 homers.

"Biggest at-bat of the game," Nolasco said.

He struck out Dunn on what the slugger called "a really good slider" that was "tough to pick up."

After a 1-2-3 sixth, Nolasco ran into problems again in the seventh, which began with two singles in a row. But relievers Jose Veras, Clay Hensley and Burke Badenhop finished the shutout.

"The story of the game was Nolasco," said Riggleman, whose team went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position. "We just couldn't get anything off him."

Hernandez gave up three runs in his 6 1/3 innings against the team he helped lead to a championship as MVP of the 1997 World Series.

Riggleman said neither Hernandez nor catcher Ivan Rodriguez was pleased with some of plate umpire Mike Winters' calls. At one point, Riggleman left the dugout to make sure Rodriguez didn't get ejected.

Hernandez said he thought Winters didn't "see the ball very good" and that Rodriguez "complained a little bit."

Said Rodriguez: "I don't want to talk about it."

Game notes
The Marlins hadn't swept a three-game series in 2010, although they did take all four of a four-game set against the Mets in May. ... Florida C Ronny Paulino took Thursday off, replaced in the lineup by Brett Hayes. Manager Edwin Rodriguez said Paulino "is a little bit tired," and Hayes "is going to see more action."