MIAMI (AP) — Dan Uggla hit a tiebreaking three-run double, Chris Volstad was almost flawless after a shaky first inning, and the Florida Marlins beat the Washington Nationals 6-4 on Wednesday to complete an opening three-game sweep.
John Baker added a pair of run-scoring singles for the Marlins, 3-0 for only the second time. The other was in 1997, when Florida won the first of two World Series titles.
Volstad (1-0) struck out seven, allowing two runs – one earned – and two hits in five innings. Emilio Bonifacio went 2-for-4, lowering his average to .571, with two runs and his fourth steal of the year for the Marlins.
Matt Lindstrom issued a bases-loaded, one-out walk to Adam Dunn in what became a 32-pitch ninth, before hanging on to convert his first save chance of the season. He struck out Josh Willingham for the second out, then got Austin Kearns to line out – on a nifty sprawling grab by left fielder Brett Carroll – to end it.
The Nationals were held to five hits Wednesday, and allowed 26 runs in the series.
Uggla's well-placed fifth-inning liner off Daniel Cabrera (0-1) put Florida in control. Ross Gload led off with a single and scored on
Baker's second RBI hit of the day. Three batters later, Uggla delivered to right-center, driving in Baker, Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu for a 5-2 Florida lead.
Cabrera allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings.
Washington had a chance in the sixth against Florida's bullpen, loading the bases with one out off Andrew Miller. From there,
Kiko Calero came on and retired a pair of pinch hitters, first Ronnie Belliard by strikeout and then Josh Bard with a lazy fly.
Florida made it 6-2 in the seventh, when Ramirez's second hit of the day brought home Bonifacio. Washington got the run back in the eighth, when Alberto Gonzalez hit a two-out single allowing Dunn to score.
Only two teams started 3-0 last year – Kansas City finished 75-87 and the Nationals wound up with baseball's worst record, 59-102.
Volstad allowed the first two batters to reach, and both scored.
Cristian Guzman singled on the game's first pitch, went to second when Dukes walked and scored after center fielder Cody Ross caught Ryan Zimmerman's fly, then threw the ball to first in an attempt to double off Dukes. No one was at the bag, the ball rolled into the dugout.
Kearns' sharp single made it 2-0, but Volstad calmed down. He faced only 14 batters in the next 4 1-3 innings, none getting past second base.
Notes:@ Florida's starters are 3-0 with a 3.06 ERA. … Game time temperature was an unseasonably cool 65 degrees, enough to force some in the crowd to don jackets and, in a couple cases, ski caps. … Cabrera went 0-for-2. He's 0-for-16 at the plate, all strikeouts. … Cantu left shortly after getting hit in the left hand by a Cabrera offering in the fifth. X-rays were negative. … Marlins radio voice Dave Van Horne celebrated his 40th anniversary of being a major league broadcaster. He started with the Montreal Expos on April 8, 1969, and has called games in 49 ballparks.
Photo: Dan Uggla