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MIA@WSH: Nolasco strikes out five over six innings

When Ricky Nolasco and Ross Detwiler take the mound Wednesday in the series finale between the Marlins and Nationals, the pitchers will have exactly zero victories between them in a combined five starts this season. Upon further examination though, the lack of wins doesn't tell the whole story.

Both Nolasco and Detwiler have performed well enough in 2013 to garner much better results, but their offenses haven't given them a lot of support.

For Detwiler, the southpaw has allowed just one earned run over a combined 13 innings in two starts this season. In each of those games, however, the 27-year-old took no-decisions.

"It's two games that Det pitched two great ballgames and came out with nothing," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "I feel bad about that."

Detwiler's early-season success has come mostly from throwing fastballs. In two games, the lefty has only thrown 24 offspeed pitches. He has managed to rely on a sinker and a four-seamer to record most of his outs, something that has impressed Johnson, given where he started from.

"Early on, when he came up, he kind of took a lot off his fastball to make it sink. Now he's throwing it harder with a harder sink," Johnson said. "That was a learning experience. He also has a four-seamer to go with his two-seamer ... He's using it as an attack weapon, not just a defensive [weapon], trying to get a ground ball. That, again, it's all part of a maturation process. You learn from experience, and he found out that the hard sink was better than the soft one."

As for Nolasco, the right-hander has surrendered just six runs this season over 17 1/3 innings.

"Ricky has been throwing great," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "He's pitched well enough that he could be 3-0. He's done everything that he could do to keep us in games. We just haven't scored. There's not much I can say. He's just got to keep grinding it out and keep pitching the way he's pitching, and the wins will come."

The last time Nolasco faced the Nationals wasn't too long ago. Back on Opening Day, he suffered a loss to Washington when he gave up two runs on three hits in six innings. Both hits were solo homers by Bryce Harper on a day Miami was shut out.

Nationals: Club short-handed due to injury, illness

The Nationals had just a two-man bench on Tuesday due to a stomach flu keeping Harper and Denard Span out of the lineup and Danny Espinosa still battling a bruised forearm.

Espinosa repeated what he said Monday, that he hopes to be back in the lineup for Wednesday's series finale at Marlins Park. If not, he said, he will be ready for Friday night's series opener in New York. The club isn't sure, however, when Harper and Span will be healthy enough to play again.

"Harper came down [Tuesday] and he looked like he was about to die, but he was ready to go hit," Johnson said. "I thought about hitting him in the eighth and double-switching him, but I looked at him twice and I said, 'No, no chance.' He was pale as a ghost. But hopefully those guys will be ready tomorrow."

Marlins: Kearns, Stanton see improvements

Austin Kearns was cleared to play on Tuesday shortly before game time and struck out in a pinch-hit at-bat. Kearns spent Sunday night at University of Miami Hospital, where he was observed for an irregular heartbeat. Meanwhile, Giancarlo Stanton, who is dealing with a bruised shoulder, took batting practice on Tuesday and will be examined on Wednesday before determining if he will be available for the game.

• Chris Coghlan led off Tuesday for the first time since 2011 and went 0-for-4 at the plate. Against the left-handed Detwiler on Wednesday, Redmond will decide whether to lead off the left-handed-hitting Coghlan or Juan Pierre, who also bats lefty.

• On Wednesday, the Marlins are reinstating first baseman Joe Mahoney off the 15-day disabled list. A left-handed hitter with power potential, he had been out with an intercostal strain. Catcher Kyle Skipworth was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.

Worth noting

• The Marlins got their first home run of the season at home on Tuesday, a three-run blast off the bat of Adeiny Hechavarria. The seven-game drought to start 2013 was the longest in club history.

• Nationals catchers are batting 13-for-42 with three doubles, three home runs, six RBIs, nine walks and six runs scored so far this season. Comments