Marlins rally in 9th, keep pace in wild card

BY foxsports • September 19, 2009

All those big numbers were weighing on the Florida Marlins, who needed something sensational to keep from slipping farther behind in the NL wild card race.

They got it against one of the NL's top closers.

Florida scored four times in the ninth inning off Francisco Cordero, and the Marlins snapped their nine-game losing streak in Cincinnati with a 4-3 victory Friday over a Reds team that had been previously perfect at holding such leads.

"It says that we've still got a chance," said Dan Uggla, who drove in the tying run.

The Reds were 57-0 when leading after eight innings, the only NL team left with a perfect mark. Manager Dusty Baker decided to try to protect a 2-0 lead by having Cordero (2-6) pitch for the fifth day in a row.

Turned out to be one too many.

The Marlins sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning, which started with left fielder Wladimir Balentien's error - he misplayed Chris Coghlan's liner. Uggla's run-scoring grounder tied it, and John Baker's hit put the Marlins ahead. Florida had four hits off Cordero, who retired only two batters.

"His velocity was there," Uggla said. "It just so happened he had a tough break with Coghlan getting on base first. After that, we found some holes. It's not that he was bad or anything - he threw pretty good."

Cordero's fastball regularly hit 95 mph, but he couldn't get his pitches past the batters.

"I've pitched five, six games in a row before," said Cordero, who is 38 for 42 in save chances. "I feel great. There is nothing you can do about it. They got to my pitches. They hit the ball hard."

The unprecedented rally against this Reds' bullpen got Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez a long-awaited win. The Marlins hadn't won in Cincinnati since 2006. Gonzalez took over the following season.

"Here in Cincinnati, I'm going to take the same path I took to the ballpark this morning," Gonzalez said. "I walked around the city a little bit. So maybe that can help us."

Brendan Donnelly (3-0) got the win despite giving up Joey Votto's RBI single in the eighth. Leo Nunez gave up a solo homer by Juan Francisco in the ninth, but got his 23rd save in 29 chances.

Cincinnati's Homer Bailey allowed only three singles in seven shutout innings, matching his career high with eight strikeouts. The 23-year-old pitcher has won three of his last four decisions and had two other games blown by the bullpen, a late-season showing that could put him in line for a spot in the rotation next spring.

While the Marlins try to stay in contention for the NL wild card, the Reds are now two defeats away from clinching their ninth straight losing season, one set up by disabling injuries to every starting position player and four-fifths of the rotation.

The Reds didn't have many scoring chances on Friday night, either. Drew Stubbs singled off Rick VandenHurk, stole second and scored on Drew Sutton's single in the third inning. Sutton tripled in the eighth and scored on Votto's single off Donnelly.

VandenHurk had to leave his start on Sept. 9 against the Mets because of a stiff back. He showed no lingering effects on Friday, throwing 92 pitches in six innings.

Hanley Ramirez, who is trying to become the Marlins' first batting champion, singled in the ninth off Cordero, leaving him 1 for 4. His average slipped a point to .355, still ahead of the Cardinals' Albert Pujols.


Coghlan, who went 4 for 4 on Thursday night, singled in his first at-bat on Friday and was 1 for 5. ... Francisco's homer on the ninth was his first in the majors. ... Reds RH reliever Mike Lincoln plans to throw off a mound Saturday for the first time since his surgery July 20 to replaced a bulging disc in his neck. The disc problem was causing pain down his right arm. ... 2B Brandon Phillips matched his career high with his 28th double.