Ricky Nolasco doesn’t know when it will happen or to what team he might be dealt.
But if Nolasco made his last start as a Marlin on Wednesday night at Turner Field, he delivered a pretty good final chapter.
Nolasco, expected to be involved in an imminent trade, added one more milestone to his Marlins career and helped them pull off a gutsy 6-3 victory over the Braves for their first win of the season against their division rivals.
Nolasco’s strikeout of Brian McCann in the bottom of the sixth inning with him representing the tying run at the time was the 1,000th of Nolasco’s career, making him the first Marlin to achieve the feat.
“I’m not trying to read anything until something actually happens, if it happens,” Nolasco said. “It’s kind of funny that the [record-setting] strikeout would come against [McCann], who’s given me so much trouble [in my career]. I’m just trying to go out every fifth day and eat up as many innings as I can and give us a win.”
Pitching under steady rainfall, Nolasco (5-8) threw seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits and struck out six. Nolasco threw 96 pitches and lowered his ERA to 3.85.
Nolasco, the franchise’s all-time leader in several pitching categories, is in the final season of a three-year, $26.5 million contract and has been considered a potential trade piece since the start of the season. The trade rumors have intensified the past couple of weeks with speculation growing all week that Nolasco would be dealt before Wednesday’s start.
The Dodgers have been rumored to be the biggest suitor for the Southern California native, but other West Coast teams such as the Giants have inquired. The Red Sox, Orioles and Rangers have been mentioned to be among interested teams.
The issue surrounding the potential deal is Nolasco’s remaining $5.7 million owed on his $11.5 million contract for this season.
Nolasco, who joined the Marlins in 2005, is the team’s all-time leader in wins (81), games started (197) and innings pitched (1,225 2/3).
“Ricky’s the ultimate professional,” Justin Ruggiano said. “He just brushes all this off. He’s been in the game long enough where he can do that. I know if it were me, I’d be a wreck.”
Nolasco gave up his 11th home run of the season in the fourth inning to McCann, a solo shot to right field.
“He gave up a couple of runs early, but really he was in complete control,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “He used his fastball more than usual, and it made his breaking stuff more effective.”
The Marlins rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the fifth on Ruggiano’s 12th home run of the season that came after Nolasco kept the inning alive with a two-out walk. Ruggiano came up next and belted the second pitch he got from Mike Minor over the left-field wall to put the Marlins ahead 3-2. Ruggiano has hit all of his home runs this season on the road.
“I was really impressed with [Nolasco’s] at-bat,” Ruggiano said. “On mine, I was looking for something in hard, and I think he just missed his spot.”
The Marlins, who entered the game giving Nolasco only 33 runs of support this season, scored six after finally getting to Minor in the fifth inning. Minor had retired 11 batters in a row before Donovan Solano led off the frame with a double.
Catcher Jeff Mathis continued his hot hitting with a two-run double in the eighth that gave the Marlins some insurance. Mathis has 13 RBI in his past five games. Steve Cishek, who had a National League-best nine saves in June, picked up his 16th of the season.
The Dominican contingent was comprised of shortstops Ermel Peña, Yefry Reyes and Galvi Lara, pitcher Roberto Tejada, catchers Luis Tejada and Pablo Garcia and center fielder Josue Guzman. The other signee, center fielder Johnny Santos, is from Panama.