MIAMI -- With his Florida Marlins slumping, manager Fredi Gonzalez has heard a lot of second-guessing lately -- even at home.
"That was the discussion I had with my wife last night," Gonzalez said before Saturday's game. "She said, `Why don't you run more?' I said, `What's on TV?"Gonzalez managed to laugh about the conversation, and he wore a wider grin a few hours later after the Marlins broke a three-game losing streak by beating the Washington Nationals 7-1.Chris Volstad pitched a four-hitter for the second complete game of his career, and Hanley Ramirez snapped a 3-for-20 slump with three hits, including an RBI double and a two-run homer."It feels great to get back on the winning side," Volstad said. "Hopefully, we'll get the ball rolling right here."The Marlins improved to 12-12 and on Sunday have a chance to win a series for the first time in two weeks."We haven't been playing well," catcher John Baker said. "We haven't been getting hits with runners in scoring position, we haven't been holding leads, we haven't been running the bases well. Anytime you get a win, it's a step in the right direction -- especially a dominating one."Volstad (2-2) provided that. He struck out eight, walked one and lowered his ERA from 5.79 to 4.45.His only other complete game was a five-hitter last July 8 at San Francisco."That's what pitchers try to do every time," Volstad said. "It's really satisfying."The 6-foot-8 right-hander had some defensive help. Third baseman Jorge Cantu robbed Ryan Zimmerman of a hit, and left fielder Chris Coghlan threw out Adam Kennedy from foul territory trying to stretch a single in the ninth inning.When Volstad struck out Adam Dunn to end the game, there was one final roar from the crowd of 34,886, the Marlins' largest since their home opener."It's good to see people coming out, good to have the stands full," Volstad said. "That's what we would like to see every night."Volstad threw 114 pitches. He estimated 60 percent were sinking fastballs, and he also threw sliders, curves and about a dozen changeups."He can throw all his pitches for strikes," Baker said. "When you can throw four pitches for strikes and have a 92 mph fastball that sinks, it's going to be a difficult game for any opposing team when he's on."There's another aspect to facing Volstad."He's very tall," Washington catcher Ivan Rodriguez said. "Sometimes when you see a guy like that, it feels like the ball is coming from a building."Volstad also had two singles, hiking his average to .333, and he scored a run. Cantu, who began the day tied for the NL lead with 23 RBIs, hit a two-run homer.Craig Stammen (1-1) allowed four runs, three earned, in four-plus innings."Not good enough," he said. "I didn't quite have my fastball location that I need."The defeat ended a three-game winning streak for the Nationals.Florida took the lead for good in the fourth when two Marlins slid home safe ahead of throws. Baker singled and scored with a slide when Cody Ross tripled. That made it 2-1.Center fielder Nyjer Morgan then charged forward to catch Gaby Sanchez's liner and made a wild throw home. Stammen retrieved the ball near the backstop but his throw was too late to get Ross, who scored despite a jarring collision with Rodriguez that left both players shaken up. They stayed in the game."I took away the hit," Morgan said. "I had to come up firing, and it just sailed on me."The Marlins were 1 for 13 in the series with runners in scoring position before Cantu hit his sixth homer in the fifth off Tyler Walker for a 5-1 lead.The Marlins won for only the second time in seven games."What creates a winning streak?" Gonzalez said. "Usually good pitching starts that, and we got that from Chris."
Washington gave up an unearned run for the first time since April 16. ... Stammen has an ERA of 9.00 in three career starts against Florida. ... The Nationals went 13-10 in April, their first winning full month since September 2007. ... RHP Josh Johnson, scheduled to start Sunday, is 5-0 with a 3.51 ERA in 11 games against the Nationals.