On a day when Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins’ budding young star, crushed his team-leading 19th home run and earned his first All-Star appearance, the guy who used to be the team’s budding young star went deep for the first time in almost a month to help ensure a sweep of the last-place Philadelphia Phillies.
Hanley Ramirez, who hadn’t homered since June 3, when the Marlins were in first place, ended his drought when he smacked a two-run shot in the eighth inning off reliever Anthony Bastardo, helping pace the Marlins to a 5-2 win over Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon.
Ramirez took a while to admire the 390-foot blast before it landed a few feet away from the pool inside The Clevelander in left field. He then jogged around the bases, soaking in every moment as most of the 31,727 fans at Marlins Park cheered him on.
“I love when I see the crowd going crazy,’’ said Ramirez, who used both arms to signal to the crowd for more noise as he returned to the Marlins dugout.
“We needed those runs to make it easy for Heath [Bell, the closer]. In that situation I was trying to just shorten my swing down and put the ball in play.’’
Ramirez’s 12th home run, coupled with another strong seven-inning start from Ricky Nolasco, was more than enough to help the Marlins (38-40) pick up their fourth win in a row and further distance themselves from a dismal 8-18 record in June.
Nolasco, who had been battling a cold, struck out six and gave up just five hits and two earned runs to pick up his fist win since June 2. He threw two wild pitches in the sixth inning — including one that allowed Juan Pierre to score from third and trim the Marlins lead to 3-2. But with Hunter Pence on third, Nolasco got Shane Victorino to ground out to first to end the inning.
“Just tried to bear down there and make some really good pitches,’’ said Nolasco, who had a win taken from him in his last start when Bell blew a four-run lead against St. Louis.
“I was just trying to make pitches, keep the ball down. Greg Dobbs did a great job backhanding that ball and the feed to me.’’
With Edward Mujica on the disabled list with a broken right pinky toe, the Marlins used Mike Dunn and Steve Cishek to get through the eighth before Bell picked up his 17th save in 21 opportunities with a 1-2-3 ninth.
The Phillies (36-45) grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the first when Pierre tripled and then beat Ramirez’s throw to the plate on Pence’s grounder to third.
The Marlins responded with two runs on a pair of two-out doubles by Omar Infante and John Buck in the second before Stanton extended the lead to 3-1 with only his second opposite-field home run this season. It was also just the eighth home run off his bat not to travel more than 400 feet.
“Nolasco didn’t feel great on the mound, but he gave a great effort,’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said. “I think the biggest thing today besides pitching was the home run by Hanley. Hanley opened it up a little bit, gave you some room for mistakes in the ninth. We’ve been waiting for that. We’ve been waiting for Hanley’s big day.’’
Ramirez, who hit .322 with four homers and 20 RBI when the Marlins went a franchise-best 21-8 in May, struggled through most of June to try to find his swing. He hit .227 with three homers and just eight RBI.
Even after Sunday’s eighth-inning home run, Ramirez said the search to find his swing continues. “It’s just a long process,’’ Ramirez said.
“The time will come.’’
So why not a reliever instead of the guy who is supposed to be the first option if somebody in the rotation goes down? According to Guillen, there weren’t a lot of intriguing options.
“We’ve got a couple guys hurt,’’ Guillen said. “[Alex] Sanabia’s got a rib cage. [There was Chris] Hatcher, but we didn’t want to keep doing it to this kid. He’s got to stretch out, continue to pitch. We have to develop him and hopefully we get something out of him. LeBlanc was just the guy who was available at [this] particular time. He’s going to be a long guy. We hope we don’t have to use him.’’
1/3 innings in his first two stints with the Marlins this season, hasn’t given up a run or a walk in the six innings he’s pitched since being recalled on June 21. Guillen said he’s been a pleasant surprise and said the difference for Dunn has simply been control.
Coming upMonday Tuesday Scouting report