Marlins’ Sanchez shuts down Nationals, 3-0

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WASHINGTON (AP)—If this is the end of Javier Vazquez’s(notes) career, he’s ending it on a high note.

The Marlins’ right-hander threw his first complete-game shutout in more than six years Friday night to lead Florida to a 3-0 win against the Washington Nationals.

Vazquez (11-11) allowed five hits for his eighth career shutout. His last came as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 1-0 win at Detroit on May 22, 2005.

Vazquez is in his 14th season and has hinted he’s leaning toward retiring at the end of the year, although he said he’ll wait until after the season to make a final decision.

“The way I’m pitching right now is not changing what I’ve been thinking for the last couple years,” he said. “You’ve got to know what you want.”

As the end of the season approaches, Vazquez is only getting stronger. After opening the season with a 3-7 record and 6.85 ERA in his first 14 starts, Vazquez is 8-4 with a 1.97 ERA in his last 16.

In the past four games he’s been even better, allowing just one run in 29 innings.

“I’ve always kept working hard and tried to battle through all the struggles, and it worked,” Vazquez said.

Against Washington, Vazquez threw 104 pitches, struck out seven and did not walk a batter. He only allowed baserunners in three innings, and retired the final eight hitters. It was the 27th complete game of his career.

“What a great job that Javy did,” Florida manager Jack McKeon said. “We keep seeing him getting better and better every outing. The guy’s just been an inspiration to some of the guys around here. If they can’t get anything out of that pitching clinic tonight, they’re in trouble.”

Washington only put together any real offense in the second and seventh innings, but both times baserunning mistakes cost the Nationals.

In the second inning, Rick Ankiel(notes) singled with one out. Danny Espinosa(notes) followed with a single to left center, but was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double and the inning ended with Ankiel stranded at third.

Washington led off the seventh inning with a pair of singles, but Vazquez struck out the next two batters and catcher John Buck(notes) ended the inning by picking off pinch-runner Brian Bixler(notes) at first.

“He used a lot more fastballs than I think we’re used to seeing from him. He was hitting his spots,” said Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond(notes), who was 0 for 4. “We had a couple situations where we could have scored some runs, but he pitched lights out.”

Washington starter John Lannan(notes) (9-13) lost for the sixth time in seven starts and the Nationals ended a five-game winning streak.

In the second inning, Lannan walked Gaby Sanchez(notes) and Bryan Petersen(notes) with one out, then threw a wild pitch before Buck hit a run-scoring single to give the Marlins a 1-0 lead.

Omar Infante(notes) and Mike Stanton(notes) hit consecutive doubles to lead off the third, and Sanchez sent Stanton home with a two-out single for the second run of the inning.

The Marlins had baserunning trouble of their own as they tried to add an insurance run in the ninth. With one out and runners on the corners, Matt Dominguez(notes) grounded to third. Bonifacio was caught in a rundown between third and home, and after he was tagged out catcher Wilson Ramos(notes) threw to second to catch Stanton for the double play.

Stanton had an RBI double and two singles for the Marlins, who had lost their previous four games.

With Vazquez on a hot streak, McKeon said he hasn’t lobbied for his pitcher to return next season.

“If he’s made up his mind, you wouldn’t want the guy to come back and not be 100 percent dedicated,” McKeon said. “I don’t know. I haven’t talked to him about it. He’s still got a couple starts left, and we hope to get a couple more wins out of him.”

Notes: Nationals OFs Jayson Werth(notes) and Michael Morse(notes) were given the day off as Roger Bernadina(notes) (cut on left hand) and Laynce Nix(notes) (strained right groin) returned to the starting lineup. Nix had been limited to pinch-hitting duties since Sept. 1 and Bernadina last started on Sept. 4. … The win was McKeon’s 277th as manager of the Florida Marlins, passing current Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez for the top mark in team history. … Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg(notes) (0-0) will make his third start Saturday since returning from Tommy John surgery. He will go against Marlins RHP Chris Volstad(notes) (5-12).

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