In the shortest start of his career, Nolasco (6-7, 4.08 ERA) gave up nine runs on nine hits in 1 1/3 innings on July 20, against San Diego. For pitching coach Randy St. Claire, the reason for Nolasco's blow-up was simple -- he underestimated the weak-hitting Padres.
"He said he felt really good, and his warmups were really good," St. Claire said. "I don't know if it was focus. We had the worst-hitting team in the league in. Those are the teams, when you don't pay attention to them, they will sneak up on you. If you make pitches against them, you can get them out. If you don't, they can hurt you."
The performance raised Nolasco's ERA, from 3.51 to 4.08, and should serve as a reminder that he needs to bring his "A" game every time out, even against the Nationals, who are ranked 11th in the National League in runs scored.
For the Nationals the game represents a chance to turn things around, as they have gone 3-6 since the All-Star break, giving up five or more runs in four of those losses.
Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann will try to get the nine-game homestand started on the right track.
Zimmermann (6-8, 3.00 ERA) leads Washington starters in ERA, WHIP, strikeouts per nine innings and walks per nine innings, but he's coming off his worst start of the season. On July 19 at Houston, he allowed six runs on seven hits in just five innings. It was his shortest outing of the year and elevated his ERA, from 2.66 to 3.00.
"I just didn't have a good feel for much of anything," Zimmermann said afterward. "My slider was pretty terrible tonight. I had a rough time locating the fastball. It's a shame; the offense puts up six runs, and I feel I didn't do my part."
Marlins: Bonifacio's grounders fueling hit streak
Emilio Bonifacio extended the longest active hitting streak in the Majors to 23 games on Sunday against the Mets. As did former Marlin Luis Castillo during his 35-game streak in 2002, Bonifacio is using his speed to his advantage, digging out infield singles to get on base.
"Fly balls are his enemy, and he's not visiting his enemy," hitting coach Eduardo Perez said. "When you look at it that way, he's recognizing who he is. The more he gets to recognizing that, the better he is going to be."
Nationals: Wang nearing return
It seems that right-hander Chien-Ming Wang is getting closer and closer to making his debut after giving up four runs in five innings on 96 pitches for Triple-A Syracuse on Sunday. Though Wang has been with Washington since last season, he has not pitched in the Majors since 2009 due to shoulder problems. He is expected to pitch sometime this coming weekend against the Mets.
In 34 at-bats at Nationals Park, Florida's Mike Stanton is batting .500, tied with Casey Blake for the highest average among current Major Leaguers with at least 20 at-bats there. In addition, he has hit six homers and 12 RBIs.
Michael Morse is 73-for-215 in 57 games as the Nationals' first baseman, with 19 doubles, 15 home runs, 55 RBIs, 13 walks and eight HBP.