NL East wrap: Marlins inch closer to Phils with win

NL East wrap: Marlins inch closer to Phils with win
May 25, 2011, 4:51 am
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Posted: 12:50 a.m. Updated: 1:30 a.m.

The Associated Press

Marlins 5, Giants 1


SAN FRANCISCO -- Ricky Nolasco pitched scoreless ball into the ninth inning and the Florida Marlins quieted the streaking San Francisco Giants with a 5-1 victory Tuesday night.

Gaby Sanchez had a three-run double and Mike Stanton hit his 11th home run of the season to help the Marlins snap the defending World Series champions' nine-game home winning streak. San Francisco had won five straight overall to move into first place in the NL West.

Omar Infante had three singles and Sanchez finished with three hits to chase Giants starter Matt Cain (3-3) after six innings. Florida has won three of its last four games.

Nolasco (4-0) loaded the bases with one out in the ninth before Leo Nunez entered to get his major league-best 18th save this season. Nolasco struck out five and was charged with one run on seven hits.

The Marlins didn't waste a chance to shine out West.

They were patient against Cain as he struggled with his command early, giving up four runs on six hits. He struck out four but tied his season high with three walks, and the Marlins took advantage of all the free passes.

Cain walked Hanley Ramirez and Logan Morrison with two outs in the third to load the bases. Sanchez followed with a bases-clearing double to right-center, giving Florida a 3-0 lead.

Stanton sent the first pitch of the fourth inning just over the center-field wall to put the Marlins ahead 4-0. Andres Torres seemed to be in position to make the catch, reaching up to snatch the ball only to have his glove hit the padding. Torres watched as the ball barely sailed over the 399-foot sign on the wall.

That was more than enough support for Nolasco.
Braves 2, Pirates 0

PITTSBURGH -- Charlie Morton remembers watching Jair Jurrjens pitch while the two were teammates in Atlanta and marveling at Jurrjens' stuff.

"He was just dealing when I was there and I was just getting by," Morton said with a laugh.

A few years later, Jurrjens still has the upperhand.

The 25-year-old right-hander continued his sparkling spring, pitching six-hit ball into the eighth inning to lead the Braves to a 2-0 win over Morton and the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

Jurrjens (6-1) struck out four and walked one in 7 2-3 innings while dropping his ERA to 1.56. Craig Kimbrel worked a perfect ninth for his 13th save.

"I'm just trying to throw strikes," Jurrjens said. "It's not easy coming from a day off trying to pitch and the position players over there also had a day off, so you're trying to take advantage of that and just throw strikes and make them get themselves out."

The Pirates were only too happy to oblige. Pittsburgh never got a runner to third base while extending its scoreless streak to 19 innings.

Alex Gonzalez had three hits and scored a run for the Braves, who scratched out just enough offense to end Morton's three-game winning streak.

Morton (5-2) continued his bounceback year, giving up seven hits while striking out four and walking three in seven-plus innings.

Yet he couldn't quite match Jurrjens, who has been electric through the season's first two months. He had little trouble with the punchless Pirates, needing just 97 pitches -- 71 strikes -- to send Pittsburgh to its second straight shutout loss.

Cubs 11, Mets 1


CHICAGO -- Ryan Dempster is once again one of the favorites at Wrigley Field.

Dempster pitched seven effective innings, Starlin Castro had three hits and two RBIs and the Chicago Cubs pounded the stumbling New York Mets 11-1 on Tuesday night.

Alfonso Soriano, Darwin Barney and Lou Montanez each had two hits for Chicago, which kicked off a nine-game homestand with its 11th victory in its past 12 games against NL East teams.

Montanez started in right field hours after he was promoted from Triple-A Iowa when the Cubs put right-hander Matt Garza on the 15-day disabled list with elbow stiffness.

"It's a relief. You want to do something positive right from the get-go so you calm down a little bit," Montanez said. "Surprisingly I was pretty calm, which also surprised me. I thought I was gonna be a little more antsy, but I was a little reserved."

Dempster (3-4) allowed one run and seven hits, improving to 10-5 in 26 career appearances against the Mets. He struck out five and walked one.

He has won his past two home starts after dropping six consecutive decisions over seven starts dating to last season.

"It was just nice for us," he said. "We scored some runs, we took advantage of a big error there, scored a bunch, like four runs after that. A good victory for us."

The Mets dropped their first game since a pair of magazine articles about owner Fred Wilpon raised questions about the state of the franchise. Wilpon first made a couple of chilly comments about three of the team's biggest stars in an interview with The New Yorker, then told Sports Illustrated the club is "bleeding cash" and could lose up to 70 million this year.

"We're going to move on. Just chalk it up as a game we didn't play very good," manager Terry Collins said. "We didn't catch the ball as well as we can. We didn't pitch as well as we can."

Brewers 7, Nationals 6


MILWAUKEE -- Jonathan Lucroy says he will never be able to hit like Ryan Braun. With Braun long gone after being ejected, Lucroy's bat was all the Brewers needed.

The second-year catcher hit a two-out, two-run single in the eighth inning and Brandon Boggs collided into catcher Wilson Ramos to score the go-ahead run, rallying Milwaukee over the Washington Nationals 7-6 on Tuesday night.

"I'm never going to be a Ryan Braun or anybody like that, but I feel like I compete a lot better in the box than I did last year," Lucroy said. "I'm really trying to do that this year."

Milwaukee has won 12 of its last 15 overall and has its longest winning streak in the 11-year history of Miller Park at eight games, though this one certainly didn't come easily.

"It was a game it didn't look like we should've won, but we just continued to fight, continued to play hard," said Braun, tossed in the third for arguing a play at first. "Everybody's contributing. When you do that, you're going to win a lot of games."

Corey Hart homered again a night after smacking three, Lucroy hit another and Rickie Weeks added a two-run shot in the seventh to set up Lucroy's big hit.

"I don't see many second-year guys doing what he's doing," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "I think he's relaxed and confident offensively, and I think that's why he's doing so well."

Lucroy singled down the right-field line in the eighth, and while the throw home came in plenty of time, the ball deflected off Ramos' glove just before Boggs barreled into him and across the plate.

"I saw he dropped it a couple of steps before I got to him. I kind of eased up a little bit," Boggs said. "I didn't lower the shoulder, so we're good."

Brewers reliever Mike McClendon (2-0) picked up the win with two scoreless innings and John Axford converted his 10th straight save to give him 13 for the season after another shaky outing when it appeared he had struck out the side.

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