Marlins 7, Reds 3
MIAMI (AP) _ Kurt Abbott hit his second inside-the-park home run in four days and the Florida Marlins extended their winning streak to five games Saturday by beating the Cincinnati Reds 7-3.
Following Abbott’s three-run blow in the second inning, Bob Natal hit the next pitch over the left-field fence for his first homer since July 4, 1993. Natal added two-run double in the eighth, giving him a career-high three RBIs.
Florida beat Pete Schourek and improved to 5-0 during its current nine-game stretch against the National League’s three division leaders. The Marlins have won nine in a row at home and 13 of their past 15 games overall.
The Marlins had baseball’s worst record in early June. Their mark of 20-9 since the All-Star break is the NL’s best.
The Reds, who had All-Star shortstop Barry Larkin back in the lineup a day after he bruised his knee, lost their third in a row despite a pitching matchup that favored them. Schourek began the game tied for the league lead in victories with 12; Dave Weathers began the game with a 6.51 ERA.
But Weathers (3-4) departed after six innings with a 5-3 lead. He allowed seven hits, including a two-run homer by former Marlins catcher Benito Santiago.
Schourek (12-6) also pitched six innings, allowing nine hits and five runs in his worst outing since June 19. The Marlins have won eight in a row against left-handed starters.
Alejandro Pena pitched two scoreless innings for Florida, and Robb Nen pitched the ninth.
Florida took the lead for good in the second inning. Terry Pendleton led off with a single. Andre Dawson singled and took second base on the late throw to third.
Abbott followed with a drive that 1994 Gold Glove center fielder Darren Lewis almost caught in full retreat. The ball hit the wall near the 434-foot sign and careened toward right field as Abbott rounded second. He scored standing up, nearly overtaking the 41-year-old Dawson, who had held at second waiting to see whether Lewis would catch the ball.
The homer was Abbott’s 14th.
The last NL players to hit two inside-the-park homers in a season were Tim Wallach and Bill Doran in 1987.
Natal’s homer gave the Marlins 94 this season, tying the club record set in 1993 and tied last year.
Larkin trimmed Florida’s lead to 4-3 in the third inning when he doubled, took third on Ron Gant’s single and scored on Reggie Sanders’ groundout. Larkin left Friday’s game in the third inning with an injured left knee.
Notes: The Marlins, who have 11 players on the disabled list, lost utilityman Jerry Browne when he pulled a muscle in his right leg running out a grounder in the first inning. ... The Marlins have hit homers on consecutive pitches three times this year. ... Santiago’s homer was the first against Weathers in 33 2-3 innings.