Apparently, all the Marlins needed was a little fresh air.
It turned out to be a good idea from Larry Beinfest anyway.
Playing their first game at Marlins Park since April 18 under the South Florida sky — and not their retractable roof — the Marlins on Monday got seven strong innings from Josh Johnson and just enough offense early to extinguish a season-long six-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
“Finally, we started listening to music in the clubhouse again [Monday],” said manager Ozzie Guillen, whose team before Monday had been outscored 43-10 during the 0-6 start to the second-longest homestand of the season.
“It was like somebody had been dead in there for the last couple days. Hopefully, this win against a good pitcher, a good ballclub helps us get on another hot streak and continue to win.”
With the fifth largest home crowd of the season in attendance (32,562) — including a loud, large contingent of Boston fans who could be heard cheering “Let’s Go Red Sox” throughout — Johnson outdueled 2003 Marlins World Series hero Josh Beckett, who also went seven innings but gave up four big runs in the first two innings.
Rookie Donovan Solano, starting at second base and batting second in place of the struggling Omar Infante, drove in two of those runs for Miami (32-29). The first RBI came on a sacrifice fly in the first inning, following a lead-off triple by Jose Reyes.
Solano’s second RBI came an inning later when he smacked an 0-2 fastball off Beckett into left field with two outs, scoring John Buck from third.
“Every time we put this guy in the game it seems like he does something,” Guillen said of Solano, who is now 10 for 22 (.455) with two doubles and three RBI since being called up May 21.
The Marlins, who had gone just 5 for 50 with runners in scoring position while being swept by the Braves and Rays in their past two series, scored their other two runs in the first with two-out hits and plenty of hustle.
Logan Morrison drove home Giancarlo Stanton, who singled, with a double off the wall in right field. Stanton took advantage of a bobble in right by Adrian Gonzalez and hustled all the way around, sliding just in front of a relay throw home and tag by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Gaby Sanchez followed with a soft single into right to make it 3-0.
Beckett didn’t give up another hit after the second, leaving after seven with six hits allowed, one walk and five strikeouts.
“He’s a great pitcher,” said Reyes, who celebrated his 29th birthday Monday and shared birthday cake with his teammates after the win. “We were happy we could get those runs against him early in the ballgame.”
But the story was Johnson, who followed up his longest outing of the season last week against the Braves with another stellar start. — giving up just four hits and striking out seven on a season-high 116 pitches.
Johnson worked himself out of trouble with two on and nobody out in the first, rallying from a 3-0 count to strike out Gonzalez before retiring David Ortiz and Saltalamacchia on fly balls. He then picked off Ryan Sweeney in the second and retired 11 in a row before Scott Podsednick singled and Dustin Pedroia doubled with one out in the sixth.
Although Gonzalez plated Podsednick with a sac fly to left, Johnson ended the inning by getting Ortiz to fly out to center. He then retired the side in order in the seventh.
“It took me two batters in to kind of get my rhythm and kind of get my tempo, but I threw good pitches when I needed to,” said Johnson who improved to 4-4 and dropped his ERA to 4.27.
Heath Bell gave up a lead off walk in the ninth, but picked up his 13th save and first in eight days by striking out the next three hitters he faced.
The Marlins, who returned home last Tuesday tied for first place in the National League East, had trailed all but one half inning their entire homestand before Monday.
The Marlins, who had gone just 2-2 with the roof open during nice weather in April, opened the roof about 30 minutes before Johnson delivered his first pitch.