Marlins 9, Pirates 3

Preview | Box Score | Recap

PITTSBURGH (AP)—A pep talk from Dontrelle Willis and a slick managerial move by Fredi Gonzalez turned around the Florida Marlins following a dismal start to a lengthy road trip.

Dan Uggla drove in four runs while hitting two of Florida’s four homers, helping Sergio Mitre win for the first time in more than a year in a 9-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.

Hanley Ramirez, dropped from leadoff to No. 3 in the order with the slumping Miguel Cabrera taking a night off, also homered while reaching base five times for Florida, which snapped a four-game losing streak.

The night before, Willis complained after a 7-2 loss to Pittsburgh that the Marlins “weren’t showing up” and had inexplicably lost their confidence.

“We definitely had a swagger tonight and he was exactly right with what he said,” Uggla said. “We talked about it in the kitchen when we were eating dinner. It was, `Man, we don’t have that spark right now,’ and he said, `We’re not showing up to play.’ You go through spurts like that and for whatever reason we weren’t scoring any runs. We tried to get out of that as soon as possible.”

Gonzalez tinkered with his lineup and couldn’t have gotten much better results. Ramirez, hitting third for the second time this season, had a homer, double and a single. Leadoff hitter Alfredo Amezaga had three hits and reached base four times, twice ahead of Uggla’s homers. Jeremy Hermida added a solo shot as the Marlins won for only the fifth time in their last 18 games in Pittsburgh.

The victory was the Marlins’ first in five games on their 10-game road trip to Washington, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, which appeared to offer the opportunity to pick up ground in the NL East.

“This was a good win for us, obviously,” infielder Aaron Boone said. “We’ve been scuffling a little bit lately, and a lot of guys had a hand in it offensively. Sergio was great again. It was nice to have a fun one, and hopefully this will get us going in the right direction.”

Mitre (1-2), coming off eight shutout innings in a no-decision against the Dodgers on Thursday, wasn’t quite as sharp, giving up three runs—two earned— and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings. Still, he ended a six-game losing streak that spanned 19 appearances since April 4, 2006, when he beat Houston as a starter 11-2.

It was a much better start than his last one in Pittsburgh, when he lasted only three pitches before being pulled with a shoulder problem on May 12, 2006. He didn’t pitch again for nearly two months.

“This year, I’ve felt good all year and I’m just trying to keep my team in games,” Mitre said. “I’ve had a sinker, a changeup and a good breaking ball, and I’ve been going right at the hitters.”

Ramirez, whose .343 average as a leadoff hitter is the best in the majors, hit a leadoff homer in the fourth, making up for allowing Jack Wilson’s grounder to go between his legs for a run-scoring error minutes earlier. Ramirez also singled, stole third base and scored in the four-run sixth against Paul Maholm (2-5) highlighted by Uggla’s go-ahead, two-run homer. Uggla homered again an inning later, off reliever Marty McLeary.

“I feel like I’ve been down and haven’t been helping my team win, and finally I got it tonight,” Ramirez said. “It was a beautiful game today.”

Nor for Maholm, who has yielded a team-high 10 homers in 46 innings over eight starts. He gave up 19 last season.

“I don’t know why all of a sudden these home runs are coming,” he said. “That’s not like me.”

Maholm, a sinker ball pitcher, was getting the ball up in the strike zone, according to manager Jim Tracy. However, Maholm said only one of the three homers came on a sinker.

“I felt good for five innings, and then I missed with two pitches (in the sixth),” Maholm said. “And they took advantage.”

Notes

Hermida’s homer was his first since July 31. … The Pirates had scored a combined 20 runs in winning their previous two games. … Uggla has three career multihomer games, two this season. … The Pirates have lost 11 of 17 despite winning their previous two. … Mitre has permitted only three earned runs in his last three starts, a span of 21 2-3 innings. … Ramirez is 15-for-34 (.441) in his career against Pittsburgh.

Related Articles

Scoreboard

Tuesday, May 15