Back in lineup, Willingham homers in Marlins’ 4-2 win over Phillies

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—A few days off didn’t hurt Josh Willingham’s swing.

Willingham homered and drove in two runs in his return to Florida’s lineup, leading the Marlins to a 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night.

Pinch-hitter Alfredo Amezaga drove in the tiebreaking run on a fielder’s choice grounder with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to help Florida avoid a three-game sweep.

Willingham, who hadn’t played since Saturday because of kidney stones, had a solo homer and an RBI grounder.

“It took my legs a while to get loose, but other than that I felt good,” he said. “I took a few more first pitches just because I hadn’t seen much of anything in the last four days.”

Greg Dobbs had a tying, two-run double in the sixth for Philadelphia in a game played through a steady rain most of the night. The Phillies remained four games behind the NL East-leading New York Mets and one behind San Diego in the wild-card race.

Taylor Tankersley (5-1) pitched a scoreless eighth and Kevin Gregg finished for his 24th save in 26 chances.

Mike Jacobs snapped a team-record 0-for-33 slump with a single leading off the Florida ninth against Brett Myers (2-4). Miguel Olivo reached on a bunt single when second baseman Tadahito Iguchi was late covering first base.

Iguchi said through a translator that he slipped on his way to the bag.

“It’s very upsetting the way it turned out,” he said.

After Jeremy Hermida walked to load the bases, Iguchi made a diving stop and retired Hermida at second on Amezaga’s hard grounder up the middle. But pinch-runner Cody Ross scored to make it 3-2.

Hanley Ramirez followed with another fielder’s choice grounder, barely beating shortstop Jimmy Rollins’ relay throw to avoid a double play and give the Marlins a 4-2 lead.

“I couldn’t throw a strike,” Myers said. “I tried to get out of the inning. It just didn’t work out.”

The Phillies wasted another solid outing from Kyle Kendrick, a pleasant surprise since replacing injured Freddy Garcia in the rotation.

The rookie right-hander allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings. He threw only 71 pitches. Kendrick is 5-2 with a 3.75 ERA and the Phillies are 7-4 in his starts.

“It’s frustrating,” Kendrick said.

Marlins starter Sergio Mitre cruised through the first five innings, allowing just two hits. But he ran into trouble in the sixth after Iguchi and Pat Burrell hit consecutive singles with one out. Ryan Howard bounced out to second, but Aaron Rowand walked to load the bases.

Dobbs then hit a drive to center that took one bounce off the rain-soaked warning track and went over the fence for a ground-rule double that tied the score at 2.

Rowand easily would’ve scored if the ball remained in play, but had to stay at third base. Jayson Werth popped out to first, stranding both runners.

Mitre allowed two runs and five hits in six innings. He’s lost only once since July 2.

Ramirez singled leading off the fourth, stole second and scored on Willingham’s grounder.

Willingham lined his 17th homer, an opposite-field shot into the right-field seats on an 0-2 pitch to make it 2-0 in the sixth.

“Willingham got a big hit and made some good plays in the field,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

The Marlins nearly took a lead in the eighth. With two outs and runners on first and second, Dan Uggla hit a soft blooper that fell near second base for an infield single. Iguchi picked it up, avoided a collision with Rollins and threw out Alejandro De Aza trying to score from second base to end the inning.

Notes

The Phillies sent RHP Geoff Geary to Triple-A Ottawa to make room for utility player Russell Branyan, who was acquired from Cleveland for cash. … Jacobs’ previous hit was a single against San Francisco on July 28. … The Phillies are 8-5 since losing All-Star second baseman Chase Utley to an injury. … Burrell slammed his bat to the ground and broke it after striking out to leave two runners on in the seventh.

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