Fish Wrap - Marlins 0, Nationals 4

The largest walk-up crowd of the season was on hand Friday night as the Marlins returned from the All-Star break to kick off a three-game series with the Nationals.

Of course, the inflated crowd wasn't as pumped about the Marlins' first homestand in three weeks as they were about catching a glimpse of rookie sensation Stephen Strasburg. (FishStripes is obligated under penalty of law to use the term "sensation" and/or "phenom" whenever referring to Strasburg).

Sadly for the awe-struck crowd, Strasburg didn't look all that sensational to start the game. He allowed two base runners in each of the first three innings, and definitely wasn't piling up the K's, but the Marlins couldn't put anything together while they had a chance. By the fourth inning, it was too late for the Fish. Strasburg found his groove, and went on to pitch six scoreless innings, allowing just four hits to the Marlins while striking out seven.

Ricky Nolasco was on the hill for the Marlins, and matched Strasburg with scoreless inning after scoreless inning. He even looked a little sharper than the rookie early in the game. But then Ricky ran into trouble in the sixth when he gave up two singles and a walk to load the bases with only one out. Former Fish Josh Willingham was obliged to unload them for Ricky, hitting a three-run double to put the Nats on the board. Hammer moved to third on the throw home, and Pudge Rodriguez drove him in with a sac fly off of Brian Sanches to put the Nats up 4-0.

After a solid start to the game, Nolasco's night came to a disappointing end. He lasted 5 1/3, and gave up four runs on seven hits, while striking out eight.

On the plus side, it was a good night for the Marlins bullpen, who held the Nats scoreless through the remainder of the game. Brian Sanches recorded the last two outs of the sixth, and the first out of the seventh. After Tank retired Nyjer Morgan for the second out of the seventh, Jhan Marinez got his very first call from the Big League bullpen and induced a flyout to center for the final out of the inning, and the first out of his Major League career.

The Hopper continued the solid relief as he tossed scoreless eighth and ninth innings, but the damage was done, and thanks to a nice night for the Nats pen, the Marlins couldn't get it undone.

Drew Storen picked up right where Strasburg left off and didn't allow a hit to the Fish through two scoreless innings. Matt Capps followed with a scoreless ninth, and the Fish got shut out in their first game since the All-Star break, 4-0.

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