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Helms, Ramirez lead Marlins past Reds

Sep 28, 2006 - 2:29 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- Wes Helms and rookie Hanley Ramirez helped the Florida Marlins give the Cincinnati Reds a taste of their own medicine.

Helms collected four hits and drove in two runs, Ramirez homered twice and rookie Anibal Sanchez picked up his 10th victory as the Marlins posted a 7-2 victory over the Reds.

One night after being eliminated from postseason contention, Florida snapped a four-game losing streak and moved Cincinnati (78-80) 3 1/2 games behind St. Louis in the National League Central Division race with four to play.

"We're lucky to be in the situation where we are," said Reds third baseman Rich Aurilia, who had three hits. "We were written off two weeks ago. It seems like opportunities are being handed to you and you need to take advantage of it. Tonight, we didn't."

Batting .387 (46-for-119) since the All-Star break, Helms delivered an RBI double in a three-run first inning and added a run-scoring single in the fifth to give the Marlins a 4-2 lead.

"He has had a wonderful year," Florida manager Joe Girardi said. "Wes has proven that he can play. He has done it before, but he has opened a lot of eyes."

Helms led off the seventh with a triple down the right field line and scored when Brandon Phillips' throw hit third base umpire Mike Everitt in the foot and rolled away from the bag.

Ramirez opened the scoring with a solo blast to center - his 16th - against Chris Michalak, which tied Nomar Garciaparra's major league rookie record with seven leadoff homers, set in 1997. He added an inside-the-park home run in the eighth.

"You don't think about homers," Ramirez said. "You just think about getting on base. But when you see a good pitch, you try to hit it hard somewhere."

Florida became the first major league team to have four rookies record 10 victories in the same year, thanks to a five-inning performance by Sanchez (10-3). The 22-year-old righthander allowed two runs and six hits with two walks and four strikeouts.

"That was not my best start, but this was my best win," Sanchez said. "I just tried to do my same job like I have always done. Today, I didn't have too much command of my pitches."

"It's hard to believe," Girardi said about the record. "Obviously, Anibal had the fewest starts to do it (17), but the guys rallied behind him, giving him some early runs. Anibal has been a big pitcher for us all year."

Sanchez's win also gave the Marlins five 10-game winners for the first time in franchise history, joining Dontrelle Willis (12), Josh Johnson (12), Scott Olsen (12), and Ricky Nolasco (11).

"I think the future is bright," Girardi said. "Obviously, health is always a big part of it and making adjustments in your second year, not taking for granted what you have done."

Michalak (2-4) surrendered three runs and five hits in just three frames, walking three and striking out one for the Reds, who had a three-game winning streak ended.






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