JUPITER, Fla. -- Ricky Nolasco got back on track -- with better control of his fastball.
Nolasco returned to top form with six sharp innings and Giancarlo Stanton returned from the World Baseball Classic to help the Miami Marlins beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0 on Sunday.The Marlins likely opening day starter gave up seven runs on eight hits in three innings Tuesday against Houston. On Sunday, he struck out five and scattered six hits. He did not walk a batter."I did a good job of staying closed and keeping my fastball down," said Nolasco. "Everything else today was pretty decent."Miami manager Mike Redmond was pleased with Nolasco's turnaround, especially with only a few weeks until the regular season begins."It was nice to see Ricky bounce back like that today. That's what veteran pitchers do," Redmond said. "He pitched with a little bit of adrenaline out there."While Nolasco was sharp for the Marlins, St. Louis' Lance Lynn was ineffective 3 2/3 innings. Lining up to be the No. 3 starter in the Cardinals' rotation, Lynn was tagged for nine hits and five runs."There were a lot of things that didn't work out in the end for him today, but I thought it was a day of moving forward from his last start," St. Louis manager Mike Methany said of Lynn's effort.Lynn, who has lost three of his four decisions and saw his ERA balloon to 7.50, started to struggle in the third inning as the Marlins scored three runs on five hits to increase their lead to 4-0.Giancarlo Stanton who was back in the lineup after playing for the United States in the World Baseball Classic, followed Placido Polanco's single with a double to left.Rob Brantly, who had three straight RBI singles, drove in Polanco. After Justin Ruggiano's sacrifice fly scored Stanton, Casey Kotchman delivered an RBI hit.Brantly's single in the first inning staked Miami to a 1-0 advantage. He upped his batting average to .286."You just try to stick to your approach. I've been working a lot with Tino (Martinez) and things are starting to come together," said Brantly, who is expected to be the Marlins' starting catcher this season.Stanton also singled and walked in four plate appearances.Kotchman (.469) and Polanco (.471) continued to impress this spring with two hits apiece as part of Miami's 12-hit attack.Shane Robinson remained hot at the plate for St. Louis with three hits, giving him 19 hits in 38 at-bats in 15 games.Marlins' closer Steve Cishek also saw action in his return from the WBC. He pitched a scoreless eighth with a walk and a strikeout.
The Marlins received a scare in the first inning when a sharp line drive off the bat of Jon Jay came right at Nolasco, but he managed to deflect it and avoid injury. ... The Cardinals have gone 22 straight innings without scoring a run in Grapefruit League play. ... Marlins' OF Greg Dobbs and Austin Kearns played in a minor league game at the Roger Dean Stadium complex Sunday afternoon for what Redmond said would give them some additional work in a game situation. ... The Cardinals optioned INF Ryan Jackson and RHP Keith Butler to Triple-A Memphis. The club also reassigned non-roster LHP John Gast to minor league camp.