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Marlins muster some offense, rally past Twins

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- The worst team in baseball is now one of the hottest clubs in the majors.

For the second straight day, the Miami Marlins rallied from several scoreless innings and an early deficit to defeat the Minnesota Twins 5-3 on Wednesday at Marlins Park.

The Marlins (27-50), who were scoreless after five innings on Tuesday, put up four zeroes in the series finale before making their move and sweeping the two games with the Twins.

Two unlikely sources -- backup catcher Jeff Mathis and struggling third baseman Placido Polanco -- provided the power, each jacking two-run homers. It was the first homer of the season for each, and both blasts came on 3-2 pitches.

In fact, before his homer, Mathis thought he had drawn a walk.

"I thought the pitch was a bit up," Mathis said. "But (after hitting the homer), I was glad I had continued that at-bat."

Polanco's shot, which broke a 3-3 deadlock in the sixth, helped pin the loss on Twins starter Scott Diamond (5-7).

"He's one of the most professional hitters you'll see," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Polanco. "We've faced him in a lot of different years with a lot of different teams, and he's always been a good contact guy. And, as you saw, he can drive the ball, too."

The Marlins' bullpen took over from there, getting three shutout innings from Kevin Slowey (3-6) and one from Mike Dunn. Steve Cishek pitched a scoreless ninth for his 14th save of the season and his ninth this month.

On Tuesday, the Marlins' pen allowed just one run in four innings.

Miami is now 13-9 in June, which is the best record in the National League, pending Wednesday results by the Pittsburgh Pirates (13-9) and San Diego Padres (14-10). The Marlins already have more June wins than last year, when they posted only eight.

Meanwhile, the Twins (34-40) return home after a 1-4 road trip to Cleveland and Miami.

The Twins, helped by a Marlins error, got off to a fast start with three first-inning runs against Tom Koehler. After Clete Thomas drew a leadoff walk, Koehler appeared to have him picked off. But the throw got past first baseman Logan Morrison, and Thomas raced to third. The error was charged to Koehler, but Morrison could have caught the ball.

Minnesota capitalized on the mistake with run-scoring singles from Joe Mauer and ex-Marlin Josh Willingham. Oswaldo Arcia's run-scoring groundout capped the inning.

"The first inning was tough," said Koehler, who allowed just the three runs in four innings. "I wasn't getting ahead with the fastball. I was missing a little up or a little out. When I had to go to the breaking balls, they were able to be selective because they were aware my fastball wasn't being thrown for strikes."

The Marlins tied the score 3-3 with three runs in the fifth. After a leadoff single by Polanco, Mathis homered to left.

Polanco entered the game hitting .235 and has been bothered by back issues. Mathis was hitting .098.

After Mathis' homer, Miami loaded the bases with singles by Slowey -- his first hit since 2008 -- Justin Ruggiano and Ed Lucas. Giancarlo Stanton had a run-scoring groundout, but Marcell Ozuna -- whose 21 hits with runners in scoring position lead the team -- struck out on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

Gardenhire said he was disappointed his team couldn't add to its early lead.

"You jump up like that, three runs quick, and you think: 'Here we go'," he said. "But nothing happened after that. We couldn't put them away. We had chances. We needed another big hit to open the lead up, but to (the Marlins') credit, they battled back and outplayed us in this series."

NOTES: Wednesday's attendance was 15,318. ... Twins OF Byron Buxton, 19, is the No. 1 prospect in the minor leagues, according to Baseball Prospectus, which just released its updated midseason rankings. Buxton, who is playing in Class A, was the second overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. Other Royals prospects on the top-50 list are 3B Miguel Sano (No. 6) and RHP Alex Meyer (No. 44). ... Ruggiano, who slugged two homers on Sunday and missed Tuesday's start with a sore shoulder, was back in the starting lineup. ... Marlins RHP Ricky Nolasco may be auditioning for the Padres when he faces San Diego on Friday. FOX Sports reports that the Padres are one of several teams -- the Dodgers, Rockies, Giants and Orioles are also in the mix -- looking to trade for Nolasco before the July 31 deadline. Nolasco's contract expires after this season and the Marlins want to get something for him before he bolts. ... Koehler (4.78 ERA) is in jeopardy of losing his rotation spot to Henderson Alvarez, who is set to come off the disabled list next week. The other members of the Marlins' rotation --- Jose Fernandez, Jacob Turner, Nathan Eovaldi and Nolasco -- are most solid in their status, at least until the latter gets traded.
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