Marlins 8, Cardinals 2
On a 92-degree afternoon, manager Tony La Russa gave most of his regulars the day off, then watched the Cardinals self-destruct. Three errors and at least one other defensive lapse helped Florida win 8-2, ending St. Louis’ seven-game winning streak.
“Mistakes we normally don’t make,” Morris said. “Any time you give another team extra chances, it’s easier for them to capitalize.”
The starting time was moved up six hours because of expected rain associated with Hurricane Charley. With muggy weather and a 12 1/2 -game lead in the NL Central, La Russa gave Scott Rolen, Edgar Renteria, Tony Womack, Reggie Sanders and Mike Matheny the day off.
“I don’t believe they would have had that much gas in their tank to play, so I have no regrets,” La Russa said. “We just didn’t support our starting pitcher with the defense we usually play, and we paid for it.”
Burnett (3-5) allowed five hits and two runs, struck out seven and reached 100 mph at least once on the radar gun. It was perhaps his best performance since returning in June after reconstructive elbow surgery forced him to miss the 2003 season.
“I’m extremely happy,” Burnett said. “I’m throwing good, and my arm feels good.”
Larry Walker hit his first home run since joining St. Louis last week, and his seventh of the season. Little else went right for the Cardinals, who lost for just the sixth time since the All-Star break.
Their defense was dazzling in the first two games of the series, but misplays hurt Morris (12-8) beginning in the third. Second baseman Marlon Anderson failed to cover first when the Cardinals were expecting a bunt, then made a throwing error later in the inning, and Florida scored twice to lead 3-1.
“That doesn’t happen very often, especially with the Cardinals,” Easley said. “They’re one of the top defensive teams in baseball.”
Morris allowed nine hits and eight runs in six-plus innings, but only four runs were earned.
Because of the change in the starting time, there were only about 3,000 fans in the stands when the game began. Rain delayed play for 42 minutes after the first inning, but sunshine followed.
While the Cardinals’ reserves struggled, Easley came off the bench to spark a team that had been outscored 3-1 in the first two games of the series. He hit a solo homer in the first for the Marlins’ second run in 30 innings.
“I think it relaxed everyone and got everybody going a little bit,” he said.
Easley’s RBI grounder in the third put the Marlins ahead to stay, then singled home a run in the seventh to help them avert a series sweep and snap a three-game losing streak.
Paul Lo Duca went 2-for-2, walked and drove in two runs. He’s 13-for-29 (.448) with 10 RBIs since joining Florida.
The victory left the Marlins one game below .500 as they begin a nine-game trip.
“If we want to play in October, we’ve got to make a move now,” Easley said.
Cardinals RHP Woody Williams, scheduled to start Friday at Atlanta, is 3-1 in six games against the Braves with an ERA of 2.09. … Rolen is 0-for-18 against Burnett. His replacement, John Mabry, had three hits. … With his homer, Easley ended a 3-for-26 slump.