Marlins 5, Astros 4

With his enthusiasm and veteran leadership, center fielder Mike

Cameron has helped rejuvenate the Florida Marlins, who are

undefeated since he joined the team.

On Sunday he contributed a hit, too.

Cameron belted a tying two-run homer for his first hit with the

Marlins, and they went on to beat the woeful Houston Astros 5-4,

completing a four-game sweep.

Florida heads into the All-Star break with a season-best

five-game winning streak, all since the 38-year-old Cameron arrived

via a trade with the Boston Red Sox.

”He has been in this game for a long time,” Florida catcher

John Buck said. ”It’s pretty unanimous that we’re all excited he’s

here.”

Cameron batted only .149 in Boston and is 1 for 10 with the

Marlins. But he grinned when asked if he has played a role in the

winning streak.

”Maybe it’s a little bit of karma – me being around so long and

being enthusiastic with the guys and keeping them positive,”

Cameron said. ”It feels like home.”

The erratic Marlins are only five games below .500 (43-48)

despite a streak last month of 19 losses in 20 games. The four-game

sweep was the first for Florida since May 2010 against the

Mets.

Manager Jack McKeon said he was sorry about the timing of the

All-Star break.

”I hate to see it show up, but that’s the way it goes,” he

said. ”We’re going good, and everybody is in a great mental state.

The train is moving north.”

Meanwhile, Houston reached a new low in a miserable season by

being swept in a four-game series for the first time since May 2007

at Arizona.

All-Star Hunter Pence hit his 11th homer for the Astros, but

they go into the break with a record of 30-62, worst in the

majors.

”Enjoy your break, everybody,” outfielder Michael Bourn said.

”We know we haven’t been playing well. We needed this break. It’s

come at the right time because we need to clear our heads.”

Emilio Bonifacio, a catalyst in Florida’s recent surge, had

three hits and extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games.

He stole three bases and scored twice.

All-Star Gaby Sanchez drove in two runs. Chris Volstad (5-8)

allowed three runs in six innings, and Leo Nunez pitched a perfect

ninth for his 25th save in 28 chances.

Wandy Rodriguez (6-6) was nursing a two-run lead when Cameron

homered in the fourth.

”This is what we know he can do – pop the ball out of the

ballpark, tie the game up, stuff like that,” McKeon said. ”He’s a

real pro, a class act, and he’s going to be a good influence on the

young players.”

Buck and Bonifacio kept the inning going with singles. Omar

Infante’s sacrifice fly put Florida ahead to stay, and Sanchez

followed with a two-out RBI double.

Rodriguez departed after allowing five runs in 5 1-3

innings.

”That Mike Cameron home run took him out of his game a little

bit,” Astros catcher Carlos Corporan said.

The Marlins scratched out their first run in the third.

Bonifacio led off with a single, stole second, took third on a wild

pitch and came home when Sanchez grounded out.

Bonifacio has thrived in the leadoff spot since McKeon became

manager June 20, and his average has climbed 26 points in the past

two weeks to .285.

”He has played tremendous since I’ve been here,” McKeon said.

”He is turning himself into an outstanding leadoff hitter, and he

has just been going crazy on the bases.”

NOTES: Astros 2B Matt Downs had one hit while batting cleanup

for the first time this season. … Bonifacio improved his average

against left-handers to .342. … The Astros are 3-14 in Miami

since the start of 2007. They’re 4-16 when Corporan starts at

catcher.