Marlins 4, Expos 3
The Montreal right-hander came into Thursday night’s game with an 8-3 record against the Marlins and had wins in his last two starts.
This time Florida finally got to Hernandez, overcoming a 3-0 deficit and defeating the Expos 4-3. Willis won for the first time in five starts.
“I knew going against Livan that he isn’t going to give up a lot,” Willis said. “I kept us in the game and put the pressure back on him. We need every single game we can win.”
Juan Encarnacion hit a two-run triple to tie the game in the fifth, and Jeff Conine drove in the go-ahead run with a sixth-inning single. The Marlins earned their 25th comeback victory and remained 3 1/2 games behind San Francisco in the NL wild-card race.
Hernandez (10-14) took the loss despite pitching his major league-leading eighth complete game. He gave up eight hits and five walks, striking out three. Tony Batista hit his 28th homer for the Expos.
Willis (10-9) allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings. He was lifted for a pinch-runner after his leadoff single in the seventh.
“This game showed what this team is made of,” Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. “We were down 3-0 but we didn’t quit and bounced back.”
Florida took a 4-3 lead in the sixth when Conine’s one-out single drove in Paul Lo Duca from second. Lo Duca stumbled slightly rounding third but evaded catcher Brian Schneider’s tag and touched home plate with his left hand.
“We fought out a tough win against a good pitcher,” Conine said. “He likes to keep pitches away. I saw a hole on the right side so I tried to put the ball there.”
The Marlins tied the score at 3 in the fifth. Hernandez walked Conine to open the inning, then gave up a single to Damion Easley. Encarnacion followed with a two-run triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Alex Gonzalez.
“Encarnacion has come through with some clutch hits for us the last three weeks,” McKeon said. “He’s also done a great job with his glove.”
Hernandez had allowed only three Marlins to reach base until the fifth.
“That was the game—the three runs in one inning,” Hernandez said. “We lost the game in that inning.”
Batista’s two-out homer off Willis in the fifth put the Expos ahead 3-0.
Montreal took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning. With one out, Juan Rivera singled, then Willis walked the next two batters to load the bases. Endy Chavez hit a two-out single up the middle that drove in two runs.
Batista’s home run was the first allowed by Willis to Montreal in 23 1-3 innings. … Willis’ single was his 14th hit of the season. … Florida’s Juan Pierre has hit safely in 22 of his last 25 games. … Either Batista or Brad Wilkerson has homered in the Expos’ last seven games. … Batista is three RBIs from becoming the ninth player in team history to reach 100.