Ramirez, Cantu homer to help Marlins beat Nats
MIAMI (AP)—Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu homered to help Florida beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 on Saturday night and the Marlins became the second major league team to have three infielders with 30 homers.
With Ramirez’s two-run shot off Washington starter Tim Redding (10-9) in the second inning, the Marlins shortstop also became the second Florida player with 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a single season. Preston Wilson had 31 home runs and 36 stolen bases in 2000.
First baseman Mike Jacobs has 32 home runs and second baseman Dan Uggla has 30 for Florida this season. The Marlins join the 2001 Oakland Athletics, who reached the mark with first baseman Jason Giambi (38), third baseman Eric Chavez (32) and shortstop Miguel Tejada (31).
Cantu isn’t far behind his fellow infielders. The third baseman sent a 1-2 pitch over the left field scoreboard in the first inning for his second home run in two days and his 26th this season to put the Marlins up 2-0.
Florida’s Josh Johnson (5-1) struck out a career-high nine batters, allowing two runs and six hits over six innings in his first appearance against the Nationals since August 2006. The right-hander, who returned July 10 for his first start since undergoing elbow ligament replacement surgery last year, has surrendered three runs or less in 11 of his last 12 starts.
Matt Lindstrom pitched a scoreless ninth for his fourth save in five opportunities.
Ramirez’s homer gave the Marlins a 4-0 cushion.
Uggla went 0-for-3 with two strike outs Saturday and Jacobs went 0-for-4.
Elijah Dukes’ two-run double off Johnson in the sixth inning cut Florida’s lead in half, but it wasn’t enough.
It has been a record-setting weekend at the plate for Florida. With Cantu’s longball Friday night, the Marlins became the first team in major league history to have four infielders hit at least 25 home runs.
Redding, who has allowed a career-high 25 home runs this season, lasted six innings for Washington. He allowed four runs and five hits, including the homers from Ramirez and Cantu.
The Marlins, winners of their last four, took the first game of the series 2-1 on Friday night. The Nationals have lost four straight.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said the Marlins saved a scorecard from Friday night’s game and Cantu’s home run ball, but have not been contacted by Hall of Fame officials. “I’m sure at the end of the year, they’ll get together with all four guys, maybe get something from them,” he said. … With one out and two on base in the first inning, Lastings Milledge fouled off seven straight pitches before Johnson finally struck him out.