Pungent smoke from brush fires in southwest Florida hung over the Marlins’ stadium Tuesday night, but many in the crowd of 11,124 stayed until the end, and they were rewarded with a walk-off win.
“It was like playing in a barbecue,” Dodgers outfielder Luis Gonzalez said. “Weird.”
The eerie smoke rolled in shortly before the first pitch and seemed to get heavier as darkness fell.
“I wish it would have been a little bit thicker at times,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “That way I wouldn’t have to see a couple of things that happened out there.”
He might have been referring to the two unearned runs the Dodgers allowed as they squandered a 4-1 lead. Or the leadoff single in the ninth by rookie pinch-hitter Reed, who hiked his lifetime average to .109 in 55 at-bats. Or the passed ball by Russell Martin that sent Reed to second.
“It’s good to finally contribute to this team a little,” Reed said.
Cabrera improved his average with runners in scoring position to .423. He was mobbed by teammates and traded playful punches with them in the jubilant celebration.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “I know they’re going to hit me. I’m prepared for that, and I hit a lot of guys too.”
Cabrera also hit his eighth home run for Florida, and Miguel Olivo hit his second. The game represented a comeback for an offense that had totaled two runs, eight hits and 26 strikeouts in the past two games, each a loss.
Both teams found the smoky conditions difficult. Gonzalez said the game reminded him of a foggy night in San Francisco. Florida left fielder Josh Willingham lost track of a shallow fly, and shortstop Ramirez had to retreat to make the play.
“I was coming in every inning chugging water, because I was getting real dry from that smoke,” said the Marlins’ Obermueller, who allowed four runs in five innings. “Foul balls would go up, and you’re dancing around looking for them. I can’t imagine the outfielders. It had to be tough for them.”
But the smoke brought out the best in the Marlins’ firemen. The bullpen, which leads the major leagues in innings, allowed only one baserunner and one unearned run in four innings. Henry Owens (2-0) pitched a perfect ninth for the win.
Dodgers starter Mark Hendrickson gave up five runs, three earned, in 4 2-3 innings, and his ERA rose from 1.30 to 1.95.
Helped by two misplays by the Dodgers, Florida rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the fifth to take the lead with four runs, two unearned.
Ramirez tripled with one out, then continued home when second baseman Jeff Kent mishandled the relay for an error. Uggla reached on an error by shortstop Rafael Furcal, and Cabrera homered off the upper-deck facade, a hit estimated at 447 feet.
In the ninth inning against Broxton, Cabrera came through again.
“I tried to shorten my swing and get a base hit all the way,” Cabrera said. “He threw me a fastball away, and I got it.”
Said Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez: “That’s the guy you want up in the ninth inning. And he came through.”
With the Marlins carrying only 12 position players, LHP Dontrelle Willis pinch hit in the sixth inning and bunted into a forceout trying to sacrifice. … Kent’s two hits improved his average against Obermueller to .471 (8-for-17). … Hendrickson has an ERA of 7.04 in five starts against Florida.