SAN DIEGO (AP)—Manager Jack McKeon’s message to 21-year-old rookie Dontrelle Willis was as clear as could be.
Making just his second big league start, Willis was in danger of not making it out of the fifth inning, and therefore not being eligible for his first win. McKeon went to the mound and told the left-hander: “If you want to win this game, quit (messing) around and throw strikes.”
“I imagine he’ll be a better pitcher after this because I think there was a lot of pressure on the kid to win,” said the 72-year-old McKeon, who improved to 3-1 since taking over the Marlins on Sunday after Jeff Torborg was fired.
Light-hitting Brian Banks connected for a three-run homer and drove in four runs. He finished a double short of the cycle. Mike Lowell also hit a three-run homer and Derrek Lee a solo shot. Juan Encarnacion had four singles and reached base five times, and Juan Pierre had three hits.
“I knew the kid was scared, but I wanted to give him a little message that `Hey, I want to see you get this win,”’ McKeon said. “If I’m going to win the game, and he’s going to help me, he needs to be around.”
Willis got White to fly out to center, then struck out Brian Buchanan to end the inning.
“Skip’s a player’s manager,” Willis said. “The things he said to me, you can’t write in the paper. But they were things I needed to hear. I don’t need anybody to sugarcoat anything for me.”
Willis allowed three runs and five hits, struck out seven and walked four.
“I had to battle today,” Willis said. “That’s what baseball’s all about. It builds character, it builds confidence and next time it’ll be a little easier. You’ve got to take it for what it’s worth. It’s a lesson learned.”
White said Willis seemed to have confidence.
“If he stays healthy, I think he will be a very good pitcher,” White said.
All three Marlins homers came off rookie Mike Bynum (0-2), who failed to get out of the fifth inning. The Padres lost for the 14th time in 17 games and are only 2 1/2 games ahead of Detroit for the worst record in the majors.
The Marlins won their fourth straight series against the Padres.
Banks, who came in batting just .139, went 3-for-5 for his first multihit game of the season and finished a double short of the cycle.
Banks, making just his sixth start of the year, homered to left field with two outs in the fourth, his second, to tie it at 3. He beat out an infield single in the fifth and hit an RBI triple in the seventh. With runners on first and third and one out in the eighth, Banks grounded into a double play.
Padres manager Bruce Bochy said Bynum “just made a horrible pitch” to Banks in the fourth. “Banks had showed that he would chase a ball bounced in front of home plate. Bynum just kept that one up for him,” Bochy said.
“It looked like he was shaken by it a little bit because he went out there in the next inning and started getting the ball up.”
Lowell hit his 13th homer with none out in the fifth, a drive deep into the left-field seats that made it 6-3. Lee followed with a shot to right, his eighth, that chased Bynum.
The Marlins added three more runs in the seventh, on triples by Banks and Alex Gonzalez, and a single by Pierre.
Brian Buchanan drove in all three of San Diego’s runs with a two-run double in the first and another double in the third, both off Willis (1-0).
Three Marlins relievers combined for four scoreless innings to finish it.
Bynum allowed seven runs on eight hits, struck out six and walked three.
The Padres had been interested in Julio Lugo as a backup infielder, but his agent wanted a two-year deal, San Diego general manager Kevin Towers said. Tampa Bay was trying to close a deal with Lugo, who cleared waivers Tuesday and was given his unconditional release by the Astros. Lugo was arrested April 30 following a loss to the Atlanta Braves and charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly attacking his wife at Minute Maid Park before the game. … With a lefty pitching, Padres left-handed hitters Mark Kotsay, Ryan Klesko and SeanBurroughs did not start.