There were no boos for Heath Bell on Memorial Day.
Well, maybe a couple when Bell started the ninth inning by falling behind 2-0 to Rick Ankiel.
But by the time Bell was done two strikeouts and a game-ending fly out to center 31,528 fans at Marlins Park, including owner Jeffrey Loria, had plenty of reasons to celebrate.
The Marlins 5-3 come-from-behind victory over the first-place Nationals not only moved the Marlins closer in the division race, it was the 19th win for the team this month tying a franchise record for victories. Only the 1997 World Series-winning Marlins, who won 19 games that August, had a month as fruitful as this.
But of all the good moments Monday afternoon, it was seeing the teams struggling closer taken out in each of his two previous appearances over the weekend against the Giants that delighted owner Loria the most.
My favorite moment? When Heath came in and knocked them out of there, put an end to it, said Loria, who spent $191 million this offseason, including $27 million to bring in Bell, a three-time All-Star closer in San Diego.
[Manager] Ozzie [Guillen] leaned over and told my wife, Jeffrey better go inside. Hes not going to want to watch the ninth inning. I said, What? Are you kidding me? I always love watching Heath pitch the ninth. I was the guy who pushed to get him here. OK, so hes got an uphill battle when he started. So what? Hes going to be fine. I never bet against great players, ever.
The Marlins (27-22) didnt necessarily get any superstar performances Monday. But they got some pretty good lifts from their usual leaders Giancarlo Stanton, Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes to knock off the Nationals (29-19), who came in from a late Sunday night game in Atlanta having swept the Braves out of first.
The Marlins fell behind 3-1 in the sixth before four consecutive hits got them back in it.
Ramirez, who finished with three hits, started the inning with a single to right. Stanton followed with his 12th home run of the season a 412-foot blast that bounced just to the left of the letter R on the Clevelander sign in left-center.
The home run was the 11th this month for Stanton, who needs just one more to tie Dan Uggla (May 2008) for the most powerful month in team history.
Just better pitch selection, explained Stanton for his outburst in homers this month. The at-bat before, I was just swinging at stuff in my face, at the dirt. He [Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann] had that same approach the next at-bat, and I took those pitches. Thats the difference.
The Marlins rally continued with Logan Morrisons double to right and Bryan Petersens single to left. After Zimmermann struck out John Buck swinging, Chris Coghlan sent a line drive to left just deep enough to allow Morrison to come racing home with the go-ahead run.
The Marlins then tacked on an insurance run in the seventh, thanks to a lot of hustle from Jose Reyes, who started the inning by stretching a bloop single to center into a double. Reyes then advanced to third on Omar Infantes groundout to third and scored on Ramirezs sacrifice fly to left.
All you guys may want to see Stanton hit 700 feet. Thats my game right there, Guillen said of Reyes hustle. Thats the baseball I love. That run was very huge.