Nolasco strikes out 13, Marlins beat Rockies 5-3

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MIAMI (AP)—Ricky Nolasco was three outs away from the first complete game of his major-league career—and from snapping a major league record for the franchise.

The Marlins right-hander settled for a career-high 13 strike outs and a win.

Nolasco allowed three runs and four hits to win his first game since July 7, John Baker hit a two-run homer and Florida beat the Colorado Rockies 5-3 on Saturday night.

“All that matters is that we won,” Nolasco said.

Nolasco (11-6) didn’t walk a batter before turning it over to Kevin Gregg, who pitched the ninth for his 24th save in 30 chances.

“You’ve got to go with your guy in the ninth inning,” Baker said, “and it’s been KG all year.”

Still, the Marlins have gone a big league-record 287 games since their last complete game on Sept. 16, 2006. Surely the thought of sending Nolasco out there one more time crossed the mind of manager Fredi Gonzalez.

“I didn’t want to let him run through that top of the lineup again, the meat of the lineup again, for the fourth time,” Gonzalez said.

Baker finished with three RBIs, his homer off Colorado starter Valerio De Los Santos giving the Marlins a 2-1 lead in the second inning. Baker drove in another run in the third.

“I knew I got that one pretty good,” Baker said of his home run. “That’s the best feeling in baseball, is when you get a pitch and you hit it well and you know it’s gone.”

De Los Santos (0-1) gave up three runs and four hits over four innings before he was replaced by Jason Grilli. The 35-year-old journeyman, who struck out eight, hasn’t won since July 6, 2005. He was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Monday to make his first major league start in more than eight years.

“The big problem was control,” De Los Santos said. “I wasn’t able to throw my fastball for a strike.”

The Marlins remained 1 1/2 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies and moved a half-game ahead of the New York Mets in the NL East. Florida plays three-game sets against both clubs during a six-game swing through the Northeast beginning Tuesday.

For the second time this season, Matt Holliday homered twice against the Marlins. His first home run in the fourth made it 3-2, and his solo shot in the sixth inning made it 4-3.

“He’s having good at-bats,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s making his presence known throughout the lead. He’s becoming a prime time player.”

Josh Willingham tripled in the fifth, then scored on Mike Jacobs’ triple to put Florida ahead 4-2. It was the second time in four games that two Florida batters have tripled in the same inning.

Willingham’s RBI double in the sixth gave Florida a 5-3 advantage.

Colorado took a 1-0 lead in the first when Willy Taveras scored on Brad Hawpe’s sacrifice fly, but it was quickly erased by Baker’s home run.

De Los Santos walked three consecutive batters in the third, but Florida’s lone run that inning came when Willingham scored on Baker’s groundout to first base. ^Notes: Florida took the first game of the four-game series 12-2 on Thursday and the Rockies won 5-2 on Friday night. … Marlins LHP Andrew Miller, on the 15-day DL since July 18 with patella tendinitis in right knee, threw a bullpen session Saturday.

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