Three-time All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez blasted a first-inning two-run homer to right center en route to three hits and three RBI, while young slugger Mike Stanton added two RBI of his own, to pace the Marlins’ offensive attack and give right-hander Javier Vazquez plenty of run support in Florida’s 6-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday night at Sun Life Stadium.
The Marlins have won three straight for the first time since sweeping the 2010 World Series champion San Francisco Giants in May.
Houston gave rookie right-hander Jordan Lyles a little cushion right off the bat, thanks in part to a pair of RBI singles from Jeff Keppinger and Brett Wallace, but Ramirez immediately evened the score in the bottom of the first with his two-run bomb.
Unfortunately for the Astros, the bats weren’t able to produce another run until the ninth, with the game already out of reach.
Ramirez put Florida on top with a third-inning RBI single to score Gaby Sanchez, who finished with two hits and three runs scored.
The Marlins added two more runs on Lyles’ bases-loaded walk to Logan Morrison in the fifth and Stanton’s sacrifice fly to left.
Lyles (0-4) allowed five earned runs on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts over six innings to remain winless in eight career starts.
“Not a good outing, overall, today,” Lyles said. “It didn’t go as planned. I was nitpicking a little on full counts. That is two outings in a row where I walked the first batter of the game. It didn’t start off good and didn’t finish good. I left a pitch over the plate to Ramirez in the first. I tried to go in with a sinker and cut it. It went back over the plate and he did a good job of hitting it.
“I missed a lot of spots today. I didn’t have my stuff. That’s not an excuse. The only clean inning I had was my final inning out there.”
Astros manager Brad Mills agrees that his young right-hander missed a few spots, which caused the rookie to battle most of the night.
“He happened to miss his spot and Hanley was able to tie the game up,” Mills said. “He kept battling all the way through and tried to keep it as close as he could and get up a little deeper in the game. They were able to keep innings going by putting hits together.”
Stanton cracked an RBI single off Astros reliever Fernando Rodriguez in the seventh, giving Vazquez a comfortable 6-2 lead.
Vazquez (5-8) bounced back from a rough opening frame by retiring 16 of 18 hitters at one point, surrendering just two earned runs on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts over 93 pitches (66 for strikes) in seven innings to earn his fifth victory.
“Javier was able to shut us down,” Mills said. “We were very sporadic about getting baserunners.”
Astros catcher Carlos Corporan cut the score to 6-3 with an RBI single in the ninth to push Brett Wallace across the plate, forcing Florida manager Jack McKeon to pull right-handed reliever Burke Badenhop in favor of closer Leo Nunez for a save situation.
Nunez recorded his 24th save by retiring the final two hitters.
After dropping two out of three to start their road trip against Pittsburgh at PNC Park, the Astros haven’t established any offensive consistency over their first two games of the four-game series verus Florida, especially while facing Brad Hand and Vazquez.
Michael Bourn and Wallace had two hits apiece Friday, while Clint Barmes and Carlos Lee each chipped in a double for the struggling Astros.
However, Houston’s inability to hit the long ball as a collective offensive bunch has a tendency to put them at a significant disadvantage.
Opposing teams often prove their ability to utilize home-run production against the Astros as a means of defeating them, as evident with Ramirez’s two-run blast on Friday, as well as Stanton’s monstrous two-run homer in the Marlins’ 5-0 victory the previous night.
The Astros have posted a major league-worst 30-60 record and continue to sink further in the cellar of the NL Central, losing 12 of their last 14, including four of five on the current road trip.
Veteran Brett Myers (3-8, 4.67 ERA) will get the starting nod for Houston on Saturday night against Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco (5-5, 3.91 ERA).
The 30-year-old Myers finds himself the subject of multiple trade rumors with the July 31 non-waiver deadline on the horizon.
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