ATLANTA (CBSMiami/AP) – Miami Marlins starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco has been at the center of trade discussions for more than a week, but he was able to tune it all out during his Wednesday start against the Atlanta Braves.
Nolasco tossed seven strong innings, Justin Ruggiano hit a three-run homer and the Miami Marlins beat the Braves 6-3 on Wednesday night.
Nolasco managed a laugh when asked if it has become easier to deal with the possibility he could be traded from Miami, perhaps before he can make another start.
“Easier?” he asked, apparently surprised by the question.
“It is what it is,” Nolasco said. “It’s been going on for a while. I’m not believing anything, I’m trying not to read anything until something actually happens or if it happens.
“I’m just trying to block it out as much as I can, going out there and just trying to go every fifth day and eat up as many innings as I can and give us a chance to win. Whatever happens, happens is my mindset on it. I think that’s been helping me out.”
Nolasco (5-8) allowed only two runs on six hits. He had no walks with seven strikeouts, giving him 1,001 for his career. The 1,000th strikeout came against Brian McCann to end the sixth with a runner on third. McCann hit a homer — the eighth of his career off Nolasco — in the fourth.
“It’s kind of funny the 1,000th K would be against the guy that has given me the most problems throughout my whole career, so at least I can say that,” Nolasco said.
Nolasco had one of the biggest at-bats of the game, a two-out walk in the fifth that set up Ruggiano’s homer.
“Two-out walk to the pitcher,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. “If it’s not in the rule book, it should be written in the rule book.”
The Braves led 2-0 before Ruggiano’s homer off Mike Minor (8-4) in the fifth. Miami added a run in the sixth when Placido Polanco singled and scored on Adeiny Hechavarria’s double. Jeff Mathis added a two-run double in the eighth.
There was steady rain but no delay in the game. Minor said the wet balls were a factor in his key walk to Nolasco.
“I was trying to throw the ball right down the middle and I walked him,” Minor said.
“It was some of the balls I was getting back. I really didn’t complain about it because both pitchers are pitching in it. No matter what ball I got back, it was still wet from being on the side.”
After Chad Qualls pitched a scoreless eighth, Mike Dunn gave up singles to Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla in the ninth. Closer Steve Cishek struck out B.J. Upton before giving up a run-scoring single to Chris Johnson. Cishek earned his 16th save when Tyler Pastornicky hit a grounder to the mound to end the game.
The Marlins got their first victory in five games against the Braves this season and ended an eight-game losing streak in the NL East rivalry, dating to Sept. 19, 2012.
Nolasco improved to 6-10 in his career against Atlanta. He holds the Marlins’ franchise record with 81 career wins.
“He made his pitches,” said Marlins manager Mike Redmond. “It was fun to watch him. I know it wasn’t easy, but he battled. That pretty much sums up Ricky.”
Minor couldn’t overcome a key walk.
Donovan Solano led off Miami’s fifth with a double to right field before advancing to third on a wild pitch. Minor struck out Hechavarria and Jeff Mathis before walking Nolasco. Ruggiano’s homer to left field gave the Marlins a 3-2 lead.
B.J. Upton led off the third with an infield single and scored on Andrelton Simmons’ single to right. Brian McCann pushed the lead to 2-0 by using a golf swing to line a low pitch from Nolasco over the right-field wall with one out in the fourth.
Minor gave up four runs on six hits and three walks in six innings. He has only one win in six starts since posting a 4-0 record and 1.98 ERA in May.
Each of Ruggiano’s 12 homers has come on the road. According to STATS and the SABR Home Run Log, that is tied for the seventh-most consecutive road homers to open a season. The record is 17 by Washington’s Goose Goslin in 1926. The Dodgers’ James Loney also hit his first 12 homers on the road in 2009.