WASHINGTON (AP) -- What a difference a day off makes.
A day after sitting out his first game of the season, slumping
Alfonso Soriano hit two home runs and drove in four runs to lead
the Washington Nationals to a 9-1 victory over the Florida Marlins
on Monday night.
Soriano entered the game in a 2-for-33 slump over his last eight
games and had not homered since June 16. After playing the first 81
games of the season, he sat out Sunday's game against Tampa Bay.
"When I hit that first one, I said, 'You know what, that's
good, because I took my big monkey off my back," Soriano said.
"Now I can be more relaxed at the plate."
Pedro Astacio (1-0), who missed the first three months of the
season with a right forearm strain, was strong in his first start
with the Nationals, allowing one run in five innings.
Using a fastball that topped out at 89 mph and a sharp
curveball, the right-hander allowed three hits and one walk and
struck out two. He gave up his only run on Reggie Abercrombie's
homer in the fifth.
"That was a very pleasant surprise, how sharp he was, how
effective he was," manager Frank Robinson said. "That was what we
The Nationals won their third straight, which follows a dismal
stretch in which they had lost nine of 10 games.
Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco (6-5) was hit hard in four
innings, lasting only 62 pitches. He was tagged for a season-high
eight runs and seven hits before being removed with none out in the
fifth. He walked one and struck out two.
Soriano, elected by fans to start the All-Star game in his first
season as an outfielder, led off the bottom of the first with a
home run and added a two-run shot in the fifth for his third
multihomer game this season.
"Anytime you leave balls down the middle of the plate to a
great hitter like that, that's what's going to happen," Nolasco
said. "You can expect that."
In Nationals victories this season, Soriano is batting .357 with
18 homers and 40 RBI.
"It just seems like it just goes down through the lineup
whenever he has a good night," Robinson said.
The Nationals added three runs in the second on Brian
Schneider's RBI single, a wild pitch that scored Royce Clayton, and
Soriano's sacrifice fly.
Washington chased Nolasco during a five-run fifth. Pinch-hitter
Damian Jackson was hit by a pitch and scored on Soriano's 26th
homer. Vidro and Ryan Zimmerman followed with singles, ending
Nolasco's night. One out later, Guillen hit his ninth home run down
the left-field line off reliever Matt Herges.
Saul Rivera pitched three scoreless innings of relief for the
Soriano's leadoff home run was his second this year and the
25th of his career. His previous one came on April 21 against
Atlanta, when he finished with three homers. His four RBI were his
most since driving in five runs on June 4 at Milwaukee. ...
Soriano's outfield assist in the seventh was his 12th of the
season. ... With an attendance of 24,943, the Nationals passed the
1 million mark in their 38th home game. Last year, their first in
Washington, the Nationals passed the 1 million plateau in their
32nd game. ... Schneider got his first RBI since June 19. ...
Nolasco has alternated wins and losses in his last eight starts,
going 4-4 since May 22. ... During his major league career as a
catcher, Marlins manager Joe Girardi was successful against
Astacio, hitting .375 (9-for-24) with a home run. ... CF Marlon
Anderson left the game in the eighth inning with a strained muscle
on the left side of his rib cage. He is listed as day-to-day.