Marlins 3, Astros 2

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HOUSTON (AP)—Gold Glove catcher Brad Ausmus thought he was making the right play. Instead, he was letting the go-ahead run score in the ninth inning.

Ausmus’ failure to apply a tag at the plate helped the Florida Marlins rally past the Houston Astros 3-2 Thursday night.

After Juan Pierre tied it at 2 with an RBI triple off Octavio Dotel (0-2), the Marlins loaded the bases with none out in the ninth for Miguel Cabrera.

He hit a chopper to third base, and Jose Vizcaino jumped to field the ball. As he came down, Vizcaino’s foot appeared to touch the bag, prompting third base umpire Jim Joyce to call a forceout as Vizcaino threw home.

Ausmus, a two-time Gold Glove winner, took the throw at the plate and relayed to first, failing to realize he needed to tag the oncoming runner because of the force at third.

“I assumed it was a forceout at the plate so I threw to first for the double play,” Ausmus said. “It looked to me like (Vizcaino) jumped when he caught it so I never thought he had his foot on the bag. If I had seen him touch the bag I would have immediately known that the force wasn’t on.”

After a long conference and an argument from Astros manager Jimy Williams, the umpires ruled Pierre was safe at home for a 3-2 Marlins lead.

“I didn’t step on the bag,” Vizcaino said. “It was a tough angle for (Joyce) to see because he was behind me. Brad didn’t see that he had called him out. I don’t think that I touched third.

“I never intended to do that because I wanted to force the guy at the plate. I didn’t even know about the call at third until the umpire said he was out at third.”

The Marlins were just as surprised as Ausmus.

“I didn’t see if he tagged him or not,” Pierre said. “I was just running through the play trying to break up the double play at home.

“Once I heard what they decided, it blew my mind. I thought I was out. I was just trying to break up the play.”

Marlins manager Jack McKeon couldn’t find fault with Ausmus.

“I wouldn’t put the entire blame on him,” McKeon said. “If you can’t see the umpire, you can’t see him. He probably got screened from seeing anybody.

“He assumed it was a force at home. It was a tough play for anybody. But that’s our type of game. We’re not going to score big. We’re just going to try and hold a team down until we can put together a couple of runs.”

Matt Perisho (3-2) got pinch-hitter Vizcaino to ground into an inning-ending double play in the eighth for the Marlins, who took two of three in a series between NL division leaders.

Armando Benitez worked a hitless ninth for his 14th save in 15 chances.

Houston took a 2-1 lead in the eighth when Richard Hidalgo drew a bases-loaded walk from Toby Borland.

Dotel walked pinch-hitter Hee Seop Choi leading off the ninth, and Pierre tripled to center off Craig Biggio’s glove.

“Usually, I don’t hit it over the center fielder’s head. Usually, they catch it,” Pierre said. “When it hit his glove, I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.”’

Two more walks—including an intentional pass to Mike Lowell—loaded the bases for Cabrera, who also hit an RBI double in the third.

It was Dotel’s first blown save in seven chances and Houston’s first loss when leading after eight innings since June 18, 2003, against Arizona.

“Last year at this time we had a lot of these games that were the same way, only we were losing them,” McKeon said. “We’re starting to put it together now.”

Hidalgo scored on Ausmus’ second-inning single for the Astros, who lost for only the fourth time in 14 games. Tim Redding pitched six solid innings, his second consecutive strong outing.

Marlins starter Carl Pavano allowed two runs and eight hits, striking out eight.

“The biggest thing, I was moving the ball in and out tonight. This is a big win for us. It was good to see,” Pavano said. “They have seven guys who can beat you on one pitch. There was a lot of pressure on the whole game. This will gain some momentum for us.”

Back-to-back doubles by Lowell and Cabrera got the Marlins on the scoreboard in the third.

Second baseman Luis Castillo and Cabrera collided in shallow right in the sixth inning, but Castillo held on to the pop fly to keep a run from scoringand preserve the tie.

Notes

Houston’s Brad Lidge got one strikeout to move into the major league lead for relievers with 32. … Before this series, the Marlins lost threestraight series in Houston dating to April 23-25, 2002.

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