Javier Vazquez lifts Marlins to season sweep of Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- Javier Vazquez might want to put those retirement thoughts on hold.

Vazquez added to his last-season surge by pitching six scoreless innings Sunday, helping the Florida Marlins complete a season sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 4-1 victory.

Vazquez (10-11) struck out seven, allowed three hits and walked two while improving to 4-2 with a 1.95 ERA in his last nine starts. The 35-year-old right-hander, who has talked about retiring at the end of the season, went 3-8 with a 6.85 ERA in his first 14 starts of the season.

"He's pitched great since that rough start," Florida catcher Brett Hayes said. "He's been amazing. He just knows how to pitch."

Florida manager Jack McKeon certainly isn't an advocate for retirement as he is still going strong at 80. But he said would not broach the subject with Vazquez.

"I'm not going to talk him into retirement and he's not going to talk me into retirement," cracked McKeon, who was an adviser for Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria when he returned to the dugout in June to replace Edwin Rodriguez. "Certain guys have that desire to spend time with their family. Heck, I do, too, sometimes."

"It's his decision," McKeon added. "If this it for him, I'd like to see him get to 12-11 and go out a winner."

Vazquez credits his turnaround to aggressiveness.

"I'm throwing more strikes, pounding the strike zone and going after the hitters," he said.

Vazquez reached double-digit victories for the 12th straight season dating to 2000 when he was with Montreal. He also has pitched for the New York Yankees, Arizona, the Chicago White Sox and Atlanta.

"I've been healthy and I've tried to be consistent in what I do," Vazquez said.

Florida won for the sixth time in eight games and improved to 6-0 against the Pirates this year, including all three games this weekend for its first series sweep in Pittsburgh since 2000, the year before PNC Park opened. The Marlins have won 14 of their last 16 against Pittsburgh overall.

Florida scored all of its runs in the fifth. Vazquez opened the inning with a walk against James McDonald (9-8) and scored on Gregg Dobbs' two-out double. Gaby Sanchez then singled home Dobbs and Bryan Petersen walked ahead of Donnie Murphy, who chased McDonald with a two-run double to center.

Vazquez was running on a 1-1 pitch when Dobbs hit his double.

"I wish Dobber wouldn't have hit the ball because I wanted the stolen base," joked Vazquez, who has no steals in his 14-year career.

McKeon seemed even more impressed by Vazquez's baserunning that his pitching.

"I hope our pitchers were watching because he wouldn't have scored if he hadn't taken off with the pitch," McKeon said. "Because they're pitchers they think, `Ah, we're not supposed to run hard.' Well, if you don't get people out then you better run hard."

Leo Nunez pitched a perfect ninth for his 34th save in 40 opportunities.

McDonald allowed five hits, walked four and struck out three. He is 5-2 with a 3.27 ERA in 15 home starts this season.

"It was too methodical," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said of McDonald in the fifth inning. "There was too much down time instead of getting on the mound, getting the sign and making the next pitch. It's something he's going to have to incorporate to take the next step."

Jason Jaramillo hit a two-out RBI single in the seventh to snap Pittsburgh's 16-inning scoreless drought. The Pirates moved within two losses of clinching their 19th straight losing season.

Anibal Sanchez threw a one-hit shutout against the Pirates on Saturday night.

Game notes
Pittsburgh C Ryan Doumit left after five innings with a bruised chest, which he injured when he was crossed up by a pitch from McDonald in the fourth. ... Florida was without its starting outfield of LF Logan Morrison (bruised left knee), CF Mike Cameron (strained right hamstring) and RF Mike Stanton (strained right hamstring) for a second straight game. Morrison's knee was still swollen after he crashed into the side wall while making a catch Friday night. ... Keystone, the Clinton County, Pa.-based team that was the darling of the Little League World Series last month, was honored in a pregame ceremony. ... The Marlins open a three-game series at Atlanta on Monday night while Pittsburgh starts a three-game set against St. Louis. Florida RHP Chris Volstad (5-12, 5.37 ERA) will face RHP Brandon Beachy (7-2, 3.29 ERA). Volstad is 0-4 with a 4.60 ERA in five starts since returning from Triple-A New Orleans. Pirates RHP Brad Lincoln (1-2, 3.53 ERA) will start against RHP Kyle Lohse (13-8, 3.59 ERA). Lincoln has a 2.70 ERA in five starts since being moved into the rotation from the bullpen.