Ricky Nolasco couldn’t guide Florida to its first ever 5-0 start. On Friday night, though, the right-hander can lead the Marlins to the best 10-game start in franchise history.
While Florida looks to maintain its dominance at Nationals Park and improve to 9-1 for the first time, Washington is looking to build off its first win of the season.
The Marlins last started 8-1 in 2004.
“We’re playing well,” Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez said after Thursday’s 6-2 win over Atlanta. “The bullpen is pitching well. We’re getting good starting pitching and timely hitting.”
Nolasco (1-1, 7.36 ERA) will try to extend the Marlins’ winning streak to five as he takes the mound for the first time since Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the New York Mets. He allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings.
“I wasn’t feeling too great,” Nolasco told the teams’ official Web site. “It was a battle the whole day, just trying to get through that day, considering how I felt and what I had. To go into the fifth inning only down one run, it was good.”
Nolasco, though, has enjoyed plenty of success against the Nationals in his career, going 6-1 with a 4.10 ERA. On April 6, he earned the opening-day win over Washington as he struck out six in six innings in a 12-6 victory.
Friday’s counterpart John Lannan (0-2, 10.00) picked up the loss in that matchup.
The way the Marlins have been hitting, Nolasco could receive plenty of run support as Florida looks to improve to 8-1 at Nationals Park.
In Thursday’s win over the Braves, Florida had nine hits as it swept a three-game series at Turner Field for the first time.
The Marlins, batting .282, have had nine or more hits eight times this season.
“Nobody in here is surprised (of the good start),” right fielder Cody Ross said after his three-hit effort on Thursday. “We feel like we’re a good team. There are a lot of skeptics who say it’s early. We have to have confidence and never let down.”
Washington, meanwhile, opens this three-game set after Thursday’s 8-2 win over Philadelphia. The Nationals’ 0-7 start tied the 1998 Montreal Expos as the franchise’s worst.
“When you lose seven you want to get one as quick as possible,” first-year National Josh Willingham said. “It’s a lot more fun when you win.”
Willingham, acquired from Florida in November in the deal that sent Emilio Bonifacio to the Marlins, hit a pinch-hit homer in the seventh for his first hit with Washington.
He was 0-for-11 prior to the home run.
Adam Dunn drove in three runs and hit a home run for the second straight night. He is 2-for-11 with a homer and five RBIs lifetime against Nolasco.
Lannan makes his first start since a six-inning outing against Atlanta on Saturday when he allowed four runs and nine hits in a 5-3 loss.
Bonifacio, who hit an inside-the-park homer off Julian Tavarez in the fourth inning of that victory, is 1-for-11 with seven strikeouts in his last two games.
He went 8-for-14 with a homer and four RBIs in the season-opening three-game sweep of the Nationals.
Cantu drove in five runs and was 4-for-9 with two home runs in that series.