Hanley, Maybin pace Marlins at Citi
Pair of two-run shots include center fielder's apple shot
NEW YORK -- Relying on the long ball hasn't been a trait of the Marlins this season. But power played a big part for the club on Tuesday night.
Hanley Ramirez and Cameron Maybin each belted two-run home runs to help lift the Marlins to a 4-2 win over the Mets in front of 37,474 at Citi Field.
A year ago, the Marlins set a club record with 208 home runs, which was the fourth most in the Major Leagues. This season, Florida has 137 homers, seventh most in the National League.
The two big blasts were enough for Florida to take the first game of the series and improve to 3-1 on the road trip.
"The main thing is we're staying in the race," said Ramirez, the National League's leading hitter with a .358 average. "That's what it's all about. Home runs are a complement when they come up. We're chasing teams right now. We've got to keep winning."
Giving the team a lift was the bullpen, which picked up five innings in relief of Rick VandenHurk.
VandenHurk, making his eighth start of the season, had his start cut short after four innings due to back stiffness. The 24-year-old gave up one run on four hits with three strikeouts. His fastball velocity in the first inning was around 91-92 mph, and in the fourth inning it dipped to 88-89 mph.
"Nothing serious," VandenHurk said. "I was feeling it warming up today. I had tightness in my lat area, and it just didn't get any better during the game. I had it rubbed out a little bit between innings. It didn't really loosen up, so in the fourth inning, I threw a pitch; they came out and wanted to make sure I was all right. You don't want to make it a strain or a pulled muscle."
VandenHurk is listed as day-to-day, but if he can't make his next start on Sunday at home against the Nationals, Chris Volstad could be a choice to fill the spot.
Florida's bullpen gave up one run over five innings, with Leo Nunez recording his 19th save after working a perfect ninth inning. On Sunday at Washington, Nunez entered in the ninth with the same exact score, but he ended up giving up two homers in Florida's 5-4 loss.
"It happens," manager Fredi Gonzalez said of closers blowing saves. "Look across the board at all the closers in Major League Baseball. It happens. He pitched today. Sometimes he's one of those guys who pins his ears back and tries to see how hard he throws. But he pitched today, which was nice to see him get back out there and do a nice job."
Nunez needed 12 pitches, with nine strikes, to retire the Mets in order.
"What happened on Sunday is in the past," Nunez said. "I already had forgot about it."
Rookie Chris Coghlan went 0-for-4 with a walk, as his 14-game hitting streak ended.
|"The main thing is we're staying in the race. That's what it's all about. Home runs are a complement when they come up. We're chasing teams right now. We've got to keep winning."|
|-- Hanley Ramirez|
Ramirez's first home run at Citi Field gave the Marlins a 2-0 lead in the third inning. It was the first hit allowed by Mets starter Tim Redding, who got himself in trouble by walking Coghlan to open the inning. Coghlan stole second and Ramirez connected on his third homer of the road trip and 22nd of the season.
Ramirez has a five-game hitting streak. He has eight RBIs on the trip and 94 on the season.
In the fourth inning, the Marlins doubled their lead on a impressive blast by Maybin. On a 3-1 offering, Maybin belted a two-run homer that landed in the big apple bin behind the center-field wall at the 408-foot mark. Cody Ross, who had doubled, also scored on the drive that made it 4-0.
Those were the only runs the Marlins would need.
"We had two homers that we really needed," Ross said. "We haven't really relied on [homers] as much. We still get them here and there. It's a different team and a different concept. The thing about it is, in the back of our minds, we know we have some guys who can still do some damage."
The Mets capitalized on Josh Thole's first Major League RBI to shave one run off their deficit in the fourth inning. One-out singles by Daniel Murphy and Jeff Francoeur put runners on the corners. Thole's sacrifice fly to center scored Murphy.
While facing Anderson Hernandez with two outs in the fourth inning, VandenHurk reached for his right side after throwing a pitch. Gonzalez and assistant trainer Mike Kozak tended to VandenHurk, who remained in the game and struck Hernandez out.
Burke Badenhop relieved VandenHurk in the fifth inning and gave up a run. Angel Pagan tripled and scored on Luis Castillo's infield single.
Brian Sanches worked two scoreless innings, wiggling out of trouble in the sixth and seventh innings. In the sixth, he stranded Carlos Beltran, who doubled to lead off the inning, at second. And in the seventh inning, the Mets loaded the bases on singles by Jeremy Reed, Fernando Tatis and Luis Castillo. But Sanches struck out David Wright and retired Beltran on a fly ball to the warning track in right field. Ross settled under it for the third out.
"I thought [Beltran] got it," Sanches said, fearing the grand slam. "I knew it was high. But initially, my thought was it was going to hit our hotel. I looked up [to the sky] and gave a little praise: 'Thank you for staying in.'"
Ross said Beltran's drive created "a pretty good scare."
"As it came off his bat, I thought, 'That's too high.' Then it kept traveling and traveling," Ross said. "Then it went to that part that is a little short. Once it got about halfway, I realized it wasn't going to be enough. Thankfully."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.