Willingham's three-run homer beats Lowe, DodgersMay 10, 2007 - 9:06 PM MIAMI (Ticker) -- Josh Willingham spoiled the afternoon for Derek Lowe in emphatic fashion.
Willingham's three-run homer off Lowe in the ninth inning Thursday lifted the Florida Marlins to a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers and a split of their four-game series.
Lowe (3-4) was brilliant most of the afternoon, allowing just four hits through the first eight innings. With a pitch count at only 80, Lowe came out for the ninth inning and was hurt by his defense.
Hanley Ramirez walked on five pitches to start the inning. But Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez elected not to sacrifice and it looked like it was a mistake when Dan Uggla hit a grounder. But third baseman Wilson Betemit had the ball go off his glove while ranging to his left for an error.
Miguel Cabrera, who is hitting .423 with runners in scoring position this season but had just one hit in 16 career at-bats against Lowe, hit a slow roller to the right side. Lowe fielded the ball and threw Cabrera out at first as the runners advanced.
Dodgers manager Grady Little did not call for an intentional walk to load the bases and Willingham hit Lowe's first pitch over the left field wall.
"My first thought was that they were going to walk me," Willingham said. "You never know, though, so I got ready to hit. And he left a pitch right there."
It was the second career walkoff home run for Willingham, who was in a 3-for-27 slump.
"When I hit the ball I knew that I had won the game and I was kind of jogging down to first and was like 'go ahead and get out why don't you,'" Willingham said. "Basically, I was just happy to get it up in the air and win the game."
Willingham's first walkoff home run came against Billy Wagner and the New York Mets last August 1.
Lowe won both of his starts against the Marlins last August 4 and 14, allowing two runs in 14 innings. The sinkerball specialist baffled them again before Willingham's blow.
"I threw it down the middle and he (Willingham) hit it for a home run," Lowe said. "It doesn't matter what the score is. Whether it's 1-0 or 10-9, it doesn't matter. The bottom line is I threw a pitch down the middle in a situation where you try and get a ground ball and he hit it for a home run."
Florida's Sergio Mitre enjoyed the best start of his major league career, allowing just three hits - all singles - in eight innings.
Mitre had only pitched eight innings in a game twice in his previous 29 career starts, compiling a 5-14 record with a 5.51 ERA. But the righthander was nearly flawless on Thursday, mixing sliders and changeups with impeccable control. Of his 98 pitches, 60 were strikes.
"I was just throwing strikes and getting ahead in the count, mixing my pitches," said Mitre, who walked three and struck out four. "Just everything worked."
"His sinkerball was working and he was pitching ahead in the count," Gonzalez said of Mitre. "There's no magic there. He was nails."
Lefthander Taylor Tankersley (2-0) pitched a perfect ninth to complete the three-hitter.
Former Marlin Juan Pierre had two of the Dodgers' three hits. He led off the game with a bunt single and stole second. After Russell Martin fouled out to first, Pierre advanced to third on a flyout to right field by Nomar Garciaparra. However, Luis Gonzalez grounded out to first to end the inning.
Pierre also led off the sixth inning with a single, moved to second on a slow grounder by Martin and stole third base. But Garciaparra fouled out to second baseman Dan Uggla. After Luis Gonzalez walked, Andre Ethier grounded out to end the inning.
"You just feel sorry for Derek Lowe, who pitched a great game for us," Pierre said. "For us not to get him any runs, it's on the offense right there."
Garciaparra snapped an 0-for-16 slump with a single in the fourth inning.
The Marlins entered with 173 runs, second in the National League to the New York Mets (174), but were again baffled by Lowe's sinker.
Florida threatened in the fourth inning when Uggla and Cabrera hit back-to-back singles with one out. Willingham then hit a hard grounder up the middle, but second baseman Ramon Martinez made a slick backhanded play before spinning and flipping the ball to shortstop Wilson Valdez, who made a barehanded catch and fired to first to complete the inning-ending double play.
"Once it got to the fourth or fifth inning and it was still 0-0 and he was throwing strikes it seemed like it was going to be that type of game," Mitre said.
"Sergio just matched him (Lowe) step for step, inning for inning, threw every pitch for strikes and kept us in the ballgame when we were struggling to get hits off Lowe," Fredi Gonzalez said.
The Marlins' next best chance to score came in the sixth when Ramirez doubled with two outs. However, Uggla hit a flyout to right field to end the inning.
Aaron Boone doubled off the left field wall with two outs in the seventh for Florida. But Lowe struck out Joe Borchard on a sinker to end the inning.
The win was just the third for the Marlins in their last 10 games against Los Angeles.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
LA DODGERS 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1
FLORIDA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3 5 0 (FINAL)
BATTERIES: LOS - DEREK LOWE AND RUSSELL MARTIN
FLA - SERGIO MITRE, TAYLOR TANKERSLEY (9TH) AND MATT
TREANOR, MIGUEL OLIVO (9TH)
HOME RUNS: LOS - NONE
FLA - JOSH WILLINGHAM (6
May 10 2:13 PM
AT FLORIDA - SCORING UPDATE
THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY JOSH WILLINGHAM (6) TO LEFT WITH 1
OUT IN THE 9TH OFF DEREK LOWE SCORED HANLEY RAMIREZ AND DAN UGGLA.
FINAL SCORE: FLORIDA 3, LA DODGERS 0
Dodgers vs. MarlinsMay 10 2:13 PM
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