Cantu drives in winner as Marlins stun Dodgers

AP Sports Writer

MIAMI (AP) —  The Florida Marlins’ ninth-inning comeback had the crowd in such a frenzy that Chris Coghlan couldn’t hear third-base coach Joe Espada screaming at him to stay put.

So Coghlan tagged up and scored the winning run on Jorge Cantu’s sacrifice fly, and with three runs in the ninth the Marlins rallied past the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-6 Saturday night.

“Joe was telling me stay, but I couldn’t hear him,” Coghlan said. “He was too far up the line, and everybody was yelling.”

Baseball in Miami usually involves a more sedate atmosphere, but the seesaw game against the Dodgers had the crowd of 25,308 screaming. There were four lead changes, the last in the bottom of the ninth.

Pinch-hitter Ronny Paulino doubled home the tying runs. With the bases loaded and none out, Cantu lifted a fly to Matt Kemp in medium center field.

“When I saw him go back, I was like, ‘I’ve got to score, because he’s going to catch it flat-footed,'” Coghlan said. “He’s got a great arm, but he couldn’t get back far enough to come through it.”

Kemp’s throw home was wide of the plate, eluding catcher Russell Martin as Coghlan slid across headfirst.

“The throw was off a little bit,” Kemp said. “It’s do or die. You try to make a good throw.”

When he didn’t, the Marlins poured out of the dugout to celebrate.

“Everybody is grabbing each other. It’s mayhem,” Coghlan said. “I just know I got a lot of punches on top of the head.”

George Sherrill (0-1) retired only one of the five batters he faced. Dodgers manager Joe Torre decided against using closer Jonathan Broxton because he had pitched the previous two days.

“We battled back and took the lead, and I lost it,” Sherrill said.

Andre Ethier, held out of the starting lineup because of a sore ankle, put the Dodgers ahead with a two-run, pinch-hit single in the eighth inning.

Jose Veras (1-0) was the winner despite giving up a homer to Kemp in the only inning he worked. Gaby Sanchez hit a three-run homer for Florida and started the ninth-inning rally with a single.

“You need 27 outs,” Torre said. “We couldn’t get them.”

Marlins ace Josh Johnson labored through five innings and is winless with a 6.30 ERA in two starts since signing a $39 million, four-year contract.

“It’s consistency. It’s there, and then it’s not,” Johnson said. “It’s not what you want, but you’ve got to deal with it.”

Vicente Padilla, the Dodgers’ opening day starter, also struggled for the second game in a row. He allowed eight hits and four runs in 4 1-3 innings, dropping his ERA to 11.42.

Before Ethier’s hit, the Dodgers were 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position. One squandered chance came in the sixth, when the Marlins botched back-to-back double-play chances, each on a comebacker to reliever Burke Badenhop.

The next batter, Garret Anderson, hit yet another comebacker, and this time Badenhop started a 1-6-3 double play to end the threat.

After Rafael Furcal led off the game with a double, Johnson retired the next three batters.

The Dodgers loaded the bases with one out in the second, but Padilla apparently missed the signal for a squeeze bunt, and Casey Blake was caught halfway between third and home. Padilla then struck out to end the inning.

Florida trailed 6-4 to start the ninth. After Sanchez singled, Sherrill came on and hit pinch-hitter Wes Helms with a 2-2 pitch. Coghlan walked on a full count to load the bases, and Paulino doubled. Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked to bring Cantu to the plate, and he hit the ball just deep enough.

“As soon as I saw Kemp going back, I knew we had a shot,” Cantu said.

The Dodgers rallied from a 4-3 deficit in the eighth. Blake started the inning with an infield single for his third hit. Blake DeWitt walked, and after both runners advanced on a sacrifice, Ethier stepped to the plate for the first time since Wednesday and singled.

The game was stopped for eight minutes with one out in the fourth while workmen repaired a panel in the right-field wall that had dislodged. Padilla waited out the delay on the mound, and when play resumed he gave up a single and then Sanchez’s homer.

Florida also scored in the first when Cameron Maybin singled and came home on Ramirez’s double.

NOTES: Torre said Ethier won’t start Sunday. Martin and LF Manny Ramirez will also be given the day off. … With an infield single in the fifth, Manny Ramirez became the 91st player to reach 2,500 hits. … Coghlan, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year, went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts to drop his average to .174.

Updated April 10, 2010