Ricky Nolasco’s start Saturday night wasn’t much better than his previous five.
Coming out with a different result was something Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen compared to a Harry Houdini act.
A five-inning, nine-hit performance was enough to snap Nolasco’s career-long five-game losing streak in a 7-3 comeback victory over the Dodgers at Marlins Park that snapped the team’s two-game skid.
Nolasco survived bases-loaded jams in the first two innings, and the Marlins gave him more run support than at any point during his recent slump to help him pick up his first win since before the All-Star break.
“I think [it] was Houdini because I don’t know how he did it,” Guillen said. “And David Copperfield tried to help him too. It was hard to watch, but a pitcher’s job is to keep you in the game no matter how ugly or how good it looks.”
The Marlins had scored three runs or less during Nolasco’s five prior starts, and only one run in four of them.
Nolasco threw 90 pitches in five innings, but aided by a four-run fifth inning and a three-run eighth, Nolasco recorded a win for the first time since July 6 in St. Louis, and his first ever against the Dodgers. His ERA was 7.16 during the skid.
The Marlins (52-62) had totaled a combined six runs during Nolasco’s losing streak.
The Marlins picked up Nolasco beginning in the fifth when they mustered five hits and a sacrifice bunt by Gorkys Hernandez to erase a 2-0 deficit and nullify what had been a near-perfect performance by Dodgers starter Joe Blanton to that point.
The Marlins beat Blanton for the third time this season, and first time as a member of the Dodgers. They were 2-1 against Blanton while he was in Philadelphia.
, Nolasco (9-11) gave up nine hits — more than he had in any of the five recent losses. But eight of them were singles and the two runs were the fewest given up since his previous victory.
Nolasco loaded the bases in the first and second innings, but worked out of trouble both times. Nolasco forced James Loney to fly out to end the first and striking out Matt Kemp to end the second. Nolasco fell behind in the count 3-0 to Kemp before coming back with three good pitches including a slider that Kemp missed to end the at-bat.
“It’s not a situation you want to be in especially the way it happened,” Nolasco said. “I just had to dig deep and make the best pitches I could. I got away with two fastballs at 3-0 and 3-1. That kind of hitter, you can’t just throw three straight fastballs and have success so I changed it up and made it just good enough for him to swing.”
He nearly survived the fourth inning when the Dodgers finally got on the board.
But longtime Marlins nemesis Shane Victorino turned what might have been a double-play into a fielder’s choice RBI when he beat the relay throw to first allowing catcher A.J. Ellis to score.
“It’s funny how the game goes,” Nolasco said. “Sometimes you pitch well enough to win and you lose and sometimes it’s just being in the game and finding ways.”
The Marlins strung together three consecutive doubles in the fifth, including one off the bat of Nick Green that was ruled an extra-base hit despite it bouncing off Dodgers third baseman Jerry Hairston’s glove. Donovan Solano, who doubled on the prior at-bat, scored on the play.
John Buck continued his improved hitting in August by crushing a ball to straightaway center field off the wall. Green scored to tie the game. Buck went 2 for 3 and is hitting .333 (10 for 30) in August. Seven of Buck’s hits have been doubles.
Hernandez, who hit leadoff for the first time as a Marlin and Guillen speculated for the first time since his Little League days, executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to allow Buck to score and give the Marlins a 3-2 lead.
1/3 scoreless innings after coming in for Nolasco. Since being removed from the rotation, Zambrano is 2-0 with a 1.43 ERA in five relief appearances.