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Marlins 1 Game Out of Second in NL East

June 27, 2006

MIAMI (AP) _ Sprinting from the batters’ box, Florida’s Hanley Ramirez had only one thought in mind. ``Just trying to get the team going,″ he said. Sounds simple, but it worked.

Ramirez beat out an infield single to start a five-run fifth-inning rally, and Josh Johnson survived a rocky start to help the Marlins beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 8-5 Monday night.

Cody Ross had three hits and two RBIs, and Josh Willingham, Mike Jacobs and Jeremy Hermida each drove in two runs for the Marlins, who are 22-9 since May 22 and moved within one game of Philadelphia for second place in the NL East.

``Guys scored five runs with two outs because Hanley hustled,″ said Marlins manager Joe Girardi, whose team has won seven straight at home.

Rocco Baldelli had three RBIs and scored twice for Tampa Bay, getting a two-run first-inning home run and a long triple in the third. Greg Norton added three hits for the Devil Rays.

Johnson (7-4) trailed 2-0 after only six pitches, but allowed just one more run over the rest of his 6 2-3 innings. He struck out five, walked one, and gave up eight hits for the Marlins, and Joe Borowski worked the ninth for his 14th save _ and ninth in his last nine opportunities.

James Shields (4-1) failed in his bid to be the first Tampa Bay pitcher to win five times in a month; the right-hander came in having allowed a total of five runs in a four-start winning streak, but yielded seven runs and 10 hits in five innings. He did strike out seven, a new season-high.

``I was making some quality pitches,″ Shields said. ``They were laying off of them. It was one of those days. Not my day.″

Shields had a 3-2 lead with two outs in the fifth and was one strike from escaping the inning _ before Ramirez’s speed sparked the Marlins.

Ramirez outran Aubrey Huff’s throw from third base to keep the inning alive, and Florida took advantage. Jacobs brought him in with a run-scoring single, and Willingham followed with another single that brought Miguel Cabrera _ who ran through third-base coach Jim Presley’s stop sign _ in to score.

``You better be safe,″ Girardi said. ``We have a lot of young guys who are aggressive, and sometimes aggressiveness leads to some baserunning errors. But he was running hard and it’s probably a good thing that Pres didn’t get in front of him, because Pres would have lost that battle. Compare it to a bulldozer hitting a Yugo.″

Hermida followed with a two-run double that pushed Florida’s lead to 6-3, and Ross doubled five pitches later to drive Hermida in. Ross, who was a home run shy of the cycle, then made it 8-3 in the seventh by bringing Hermida home with a stand-up triple that bounced off the right-field wall.

All eight of Florida’s runs came with two out.

``Anytime you can put runs on the board with two outs, I think that’s huge and probably puts them on their heels a little bit,″ Jacobs said. ``And we took advantage.″

Baldelli’s home run _ a 402-foot shot to left field _ gave the Devil Rays a quick 2-0 lead. Julio Lugo led off with a double and scored on Baldelli’s third homer of the year.

``We were in a nicer run when we were getting the hits when we needed them,″ said Baldelli, whose team had won six of its last nine coming into Monday. ``It’s not going to happen every game. It’s understandable.″

The Marlins tied it in their half of the first. Jacobs’ RBI double brought Cabrera home, and Willingham was credited with a run-scoring double after Huff stumbled trying to field his grounder down the left field line that brought Jacobs around.

``The team picked me up and got two runs right back,″ Johnson said. ``So that helped out a lot.″

Shields singled to lead off the Tampa Bay third and gave his team a 3-2 lead when he trotted home on Baldelli’s long triple off the scoreboard in center three batters later.

Tampa Bay scored two runs in the eighth, with Baldelli scoring on a double-play ball and Jonny Gomes delivering a pinch-hit single that allowed Norton to come around. But Logan Kensing struck out Josh Paul to end the inning, preserving Florida’s three-run lead.

``Five-run innings are devastating,″ Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ``That’s the whole game.″

Notes: The Marlins tied a season-high with seven doubles. ... Baldelli’s home run was only the third allowed this season by Johnson, whose ERA rose from 2.01 to 2.20. ... Lugo drew a seventh-inning walk, tying Fred McGriff’s Devil Rays record of getting one in nine straight games. McGriff walked in nine straight during the 1999 season. ... Tampa Bay fell to 12-12 in June, and needs to win two of its next three games for the seventh winning month in franchise history. ... Attendance was 7,416.

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