Marlins 4, Pirates 3

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—This is one lineup combination Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez might not want to break up.

Josh Willingham and Miguel Cabrera doubled in runs during Florida’s eighth-inning rally, and the Marlins won for the second night in a row with a reconfigured batting order after losing four straight by beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 Wednesday.

The Marlins trailed 3-2 entering the eighth, but Hanley Ramirez singled off reliever Matt Capps (2-1) with one out to reach base for the eighth time in two games. Cabrera, batting cleanup for the second time this season, and Willingham followed with doubles to make it 4-3.

Ramirez leads the majors with a .343 average as a leadoff hitter, but has reached base eight times in two games as the No. 3 hitter. Cabrera, who sat out Tuesday night amid an 0-for-15 slump, had a pair of doubles while batting fourth.

“Hanley can drive the ball and hit extra-base hits and drive in more runs (there),” Willingham said, giving his approval to the latest new look. “Maybe he can help us out more out of the 3-hole, instead of always trying to be the tablesetter. It gives us more options in the middle of the lineup.”

The Pirates lost their 12th in 18 games despite the long-slumping Adam LaRoche’s first homer at home this season and three hits, all of which figured in their scoring.

“I was getting pitches to hit, and it felt good not always having an 0-2 or 1-2 count,” said LaRoche, who has raised his average from .168 to .197 with five hits in two games. “I’m having a lot better at-bats. I’m getting more comfortable, more confident. I’ve been waiting long enough.”

Taylor Tankersley (3-1) retired the only two batters he faced in the seventh for the victory after Marlins starter Scott Olsen gave up five hits and three runs in 6 1-3 innings. Kevin Gregg, the Marlins’ designated closer for the night, finished up in the ninth inning for his second save in as many opportunities after Matt Lindstrom pitched a scoreless eighth.

Pirates starter Zach Duke was in position to win for the first time in seven starts since getting his only victory on April 8, leaving with the one-run lead after seven. But Capps couldn’t hold it as Gonzalez successfully altered his batting order for the second time in two games.

“Yeah, it was a different look,” Cabrera said. “Fredi felt better with it and he wants to stay with the lineup like that, it’s cool with me.”

A night after Ramirez dropped from leadoff to third, Ramirez stayed there with Cabrera going down to fourth. The move paid off not only in the eighth inning, but also in the first as Reggie Abercrombie, leading off the first time this season, hit his first homer since July 14.

“Everybody’s been swinging the bat the last couple of days, and you hope to keep it going,” Gonzalez said. “Those guys are going to hit. They’re going to have 0-for-15s—the best hitters in the world go 0-for-15s, 1-for-20s in a 162-game season.”

Abercrombie’s homer, which he said was his first as a leadoff hitter in any level of baseball, was the third in a span of five batters against Duke. The left-hander was lifted after allowing hits to the final four batters he faced— including homers by Andruw Jones and Jeff Francoeur—in the sixth inning of a 4-1 loss to Atlanta on Friday.

Dan Uggla followed Abercrombie’s homer with a single, the sixth hit in a row against Duke. But the left-hander settled down after that to allow only one more run over seven innings, on Cabrera’s double following two walks in the third.

Duke didn’t figure in the decision, but manager Jim Tracy said, “He started getting the ball down in the zone, hitting his spots, and had his sinker working and started getting ground balls.”

LaRoche, previously batting .167 with no homers in 54 at-bats at PNC Park this season, tied it at 1 with his fourth homer of the season in the second. He tied it again, at 2-all, with an RBI single following two walks by Olsen in the fourth.

Xavier Nady hit a line drive single off Olsen’s right foot in the seventh, a game after the pitcher injured his left foot on a similar play, and LaRoche also singled ahead of Jose Castillo’s RBI single. Olsen said the line drive hit his heel, but shouldn’t prevent him from making his next start on Tuesday.


Ramirez has four hits in two games. … Florida had lost nine of 13 since last winning consecutive games on April 30 and May 1. … The Marlins led 2-1 at the end of the fourth. They were outscored 22-3 over the first four innings of their previous 10 games.

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