SAN FRANCISCO -- Ricky Nolasco would have liked to retire the final outs Tuesday and picked up his fifth career complete game.
Instead, he settled for a nice parting gift -- a 5-1 series-opening victory over the defending world champion GIants on the first day of the Marlins' nine-game road trip out West.
With owner Jeffrey Loria watching among the crowd of 41,165 and 19th consecutive sellout at AT&T Park, Nolasco kept the GIants scoreless until the ninth inning.
He scattered seven hits, walked two and struckout five before manager Edwin Rodriguez finally pulled the plug with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth. Closer Leo Nunez came on and retired Miguel Tejada on a run-scoring fly ball before getting Emmanuel Burriss to fly out to left to end the game, resulting in his major-league leading 18th save in 18 opportunities.
"They came out and ambushed me," said Nolasco, who threw just 89 pitches after eight innings and finished with 72 strikes on 110 pitches. "Obviously their report was swing early. They know I like to pitch ahead. They didn't want to get behind. So they came out swinging and I just tried to take advantage and make better pitches early."
The Marlins, who now own second-best record in the National League at 27-19 and are one game behind the Phillies (29-19) in the division, got all the offense they really needed early. Mike Stanton hit a solo home run, his team-leading 11th of the season to open the fourth, and Gaby Sanchez had three hits including a bases-clearing, two out-double in the third inning.
The Marlins added another run when Chris Coghlan doubled and scored on a Guillermo Mota wild pitch in the ninth.
The Giants (27-20) had won nine games in a row at home and 12 of their previous 15.
Matt Cain, who came in 3-0 with a 2.98 ERA against the Marlins in seven previous starts, retired six of the first seven batters he faced.
But Omar Infante, who also finished with three hits, got the Marlins bats going with a leadoff single in the third. After Nolasco failed to get down a sacrifice bunt and Chris Coghlan grounded into a fielder's choice, Hanley Ramirez battled back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk. Logan Morrison followed by working a 2-2 count for a walk.
Then, Sanchez stepped in and delivered. He crushed a 2-2 pitch from Cain to the deepest part of the stadium in right-center field, right in front of the Pop Secret ad, for a bases-clearing double.
Cain finally got out of the 28-pitch inning by getting Greg Dobbs to ground out to second.
Stanton's home run, a straightaway blast just over the 399 marker in center field, was his ninth this month.
"That was a very good team effort," Rodriguez said. "Gaby had an outstanding night tonight. That was a huge, clutch hit with the bases loaded, three RBI double. Everybody is pulling together. Hanley moving runners, good defense out there. It was a good team win."
The Giants never got much in the way of offense until the ninth. After getting a leadoff double from Andres Torres to start the game, the Giants stranded him at third when Nolasco got Buster Posey to fly out to right field to end the inning.
After former Marlin Cody Ross picked up a one-out single in the second, Nolasco retired 11 of the next 12 batters he faced before Freddy Sanchez singled to center with two outs in the sixth.
Even when the Giants did put a runner on base, they blew it. After Torres was hit by a pitch with one out in the third, he forgot how many outs there were and was doubled up on a routine fly out to center.
The Giants finally put a runner in scoring position in the seventh after Posey singled and Ross drew a one-out walk. But after starting 3-0 on Mike Fontenot, Nolasco battled back and forced a fly out to center before Miguel Tejada bounced into a fielder's choice to end the inning.
"He just had his stuff tonight," catcher John Buck said. "Whatever I called seemed to be in the right location, whether it be curveball, slider, changeup. When you're able to get ahead and locate those type of pitches the whole count it makes it tough as a hitter to lock in on a zone or a certain pitch. He was throwing three or four pitches whenever he wanted however he wanted."
With the return date of ace Josh Johnson still unsettled (he'll throw for the first time on Wednesday), Buck said the entire starting rotation knows they have to step up.
"I don't know if they're putting added pressure on themselves, but I know they know they have to go out there and put together quality outings because it's more important than ever without Josh," Buck said.
"But even with Josh we need them to pitch that way to stay in this division. So far, so good without Josh. Hopefully we only have one more start without him and we'll see where he's at."