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PHI@MIA: Nolasco earns seventh win with quality start

MIAMI -- Ricky Nolasco was feeling under the weather Sunday. He still managed to help the Marlins stay hot.

Nolasco, who has felt sick the past few days, pitched seven innings and held the Phillies to two runs as the Marlins notched their fourth straight win, 5-2, before 31,727 at Marlins Park. 

"Little by little, we're putting everything together," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We're pitching well. Even Nolasco, who wasn't feeling great on the mound, gave a great effort."

The victory marked the Marlins' first sweep since taking three in a row against the Nationals from May 28-30, and it was the team's first sweep of the Phillies in Miami since 2004.

"It's funny how it works," Nolasco said. "We've been playing well, just trying not to think about what month it is right now. Hopefully we keep it going, we've got some good teams coming up on the road. Just to win four in a row means a lot to the team right now."

Nolasco was slow out of the gate, giving up a triple down the right-field line to Juan Pierre in the first inning. Pierre scored four pitches later when Hunter Pence hit a grounder to Hanley Ramirez at third. Ramirez attempted to make the play at the plate, but Pierre beat the throw home, sliding in under John Buck's tag.

After Pence's RBI, Nolasco retired 10 straight Philadelphia batters, a streak that began by inducing a 6-4-3 double play to end the first inning and culminated with two straight strikeouts to end the fourth. 

Shane Victorino snapped that streak with a leadoff single in the fifth, and after two infield popups, Mike Fontenot hit another single to put runners on the corners. Nolasco escaped the inning unscathed by striking out Joe Blanton.

Nolasco wasn't as fortunate in the sixth, though. After consecutive one-out singles by Pierre and Pence, a pair of wild pitches allowed Pierre to score, cutting the Marlins' lead to one run before Nolasco got Victorino to ground out to first.

Nolasco finished with seven innings, allowing five hits, two runs, six strikeouts and zero walks. It was the righty's second straight quality start and the first time since April 7 that he did not walk a batter.

"He's always been a better pitcher than people give him credit for," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I've seen him pitch good against us. He's tough and he's stingy. He don't like to give you too much. He knows how to pitch."

While Nolasco pitched effectively despite being sick, the Marlins' bats provided him with enough support. After falling behind 1-0 early, they answered with a pair of runs in the second inning.

Omar Infante and Buck hit back-to-back, two-out RBI doubles to give the Marlins a one-run lead.

Miami extended the lead one inning later, courtesy of the team's lone All-Star.

Giancarlo Stanton, who earned his first career All-Star bid, hit a two-out solo shot to the opposite field off Blanton. It was Stanton's 19th home run of the season -- one more than he hit before the All-Star break a year ago -- and it was the 19th homer surrendered by Blanton this season.

"Big, big there," Nolasco said. "One more run of support. It was a big homer, that's for sure."

Ramirez sealed the game in the eighth with his 12th home run of the season, a two-run shot that just cleared the left-field wall to give the Marlins a three-run lead. Heath Bell pitched a perfect ninth for his 17th save.

"The biggest thing today, besides pitching, was the home run by Hanley," Guillen said. "Hanley opened the game up a little bit and gave us some room for a mistake in the ninth. We've been waiting for that. We've been waiting for Hanley's big day."

The Marlins have also been waiting for the calendar to flip to July following a turbulent June. Inside the team's clubhouse, a dry-erase board had a telling message for the Marlins: "Goodbye June ... Welcome JULY!!"

After Miami went 8-18 in June, Nolasco's efforts and the two big home runs helped the Marlins start July on the right foot before they embarked on a seven-game road trip.

"June, get far away from us right now," Stanton said. "It's good to start new and just move forward. It's a long season, we're going to have rocky times, but just move forward."

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