Marlins 4, Diamondbacks 3

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PHOENIX (AP)—Brian Banks came in for his defense. He made the difference at the plate.

Banks homered leading off the eighth inning to lift the Florida Marlins past the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 Thursday night for a split of their four-game series.

Banks, who entered in a double-switch in the seventh as a defensive replacement in left field, drove the second pitch from Oscar Villareal (1-2) to center for his first home run of the season.

“As the leadoff guy, I was just trying to get on base,” said Banks, who lives in nearby Mesa and had 30 friends and family in the stands. “I wasn’t trying to hit it out, just trying to get on base.”

The Marlins won just hours after losing a starting pitcher to injury for the second time in a week. Mark Redman was sidelined by a broken thumb and is expected to be sidelined two-to-four weeks.

Also Thursday, No. 1 starter A.J. Burnett hinted that Florida management might have withheld information from him about his injured elbow. General manager Larry Beinfest called that “outrageous” and “ridiculous.”

Burnett had reconstructive Tommy John surgery Tuesday to repair a torn elbow ligament, and is expected to be sidelined 12-to-18 months.

“We’ve got to step up and throw some innings” said Marlins starter Josh Beckett, who allowed three runs on eight hits over 6 2-3 innings. “That’s what we need to do, not having somebody try and do more than they can do.”

Armando Almanza (3-0) pitched 1 1-3 perfect innings for the win, and Braden Looper worked a hitless ninth for his fifth save in six chances.

“That was a big game for us,” Florida manager Jeff Torborg said. “It’s important because we’re in such a tough division. They’re not losing in front of us very much.”

Arizona’s Rod Barajas tied it at 3 leading off the seventh, driving a 1-1 fastball from Beckett into the left-field stands for his first homer.

Barajas’ home run was his seventh consecutive hit dating to Monday, matching the club record held by Tony Batista. Barajas flied out in the ninth to end the streak.

“I’m just seeing the ball real well right now,” Barajas said. “I seem to be getting a couple of mistake pitches every at-bat and I seem to be taking advantage of every single one.”

Including a fourth-inning intentional walk, Barajas reached base safely in eight consecutive plate appearances, one short of Greg Colbrunn’s franchise record.

“He’s seeing everything as big as a beach ball and hitting everything on the sweet spot,” Arizona manager Bob Brenly said.

Beckett retired his next two batters after Barajas’ homer, but allowed back-to-back singles to Junior Spivey and Luis Gonzalez and was pulled for Almanza, who retired David Dellucci on a grounder to end the inning.

Beckett struck out seven and walked three, one intentionally, and also added an RBI double.

Arizona’s Andrew Good, making his second career start and first since April 22 in Montreal, allowed three runs on six hits over seven innings. Good walked two and struck out one.

The Marlins opened a 2-0 lead in the third inning on three straight one-out doubles.

Todd Hollandsworth’s blooper down the left-field line fell between a trio of converging Diamondbacks to start the rally, and Beckett and Juan Pierre followed with consecutive run-scoring line drives to the wall in left-center.

“He just fell behind,” Beckett said. “That’s what he would have done to me if I’d fallen behind. That’s why I make sure I get ahead of the other pitcher.”

Arizona pulled even in the bottom half. After Beckett retired the first six batters he faced—three by strikeout—Steve Finley led off with a single and scored on Barajas’ double to the bullpen wall in the left-field corner. Two outs later, Gonzalez pulled a double into the right-field corner to score Barajas and tie it at 2.

Florida regained a 3-2 lead in the top of the fourth when Juan Encarnaciontripled into the right-center gap and scored on Derrek Lee’s sacrifice fly.


Opponents have scored eight of the 20 runs off Beckett in the third inning. … Seven of the 11 hits Good has allowed this season have gone for extra bases—three doubles, a triple and two home runs. … Florida 2B Luis Castillo extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a first-inning infield single off Good’s glove. … Beckett threw the first pitch of the intentional walk to Barajas over catcher Ivan Rodriguez’s glove for a wild pitch. … The first pitch was delayed six minutes due to President Bush’s address, which wasbroadcast on the center-field scoreboard.

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