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Willingham helps Marlins avoid sweep, slam Cardinals

Aug 24, 2007 - 5:14 AM ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- Josh Willingham hit two home runs, including a grand slam, and Cody Ross belted a three-run blast as the Florida Marlins routed the St. Louis Cardinals, 11-3, on Thursday.

Willingham drove in a career-high six runs as the Marlins avoided a three-game sweep. Florida has not been swept of a series in St. Louis since May 2000.

St. Louis (61-63) remained three games back of the Chicago Cubs (65-61) in the National League Central Division. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Cubs, 4-1, earlier Thursday.

Marlins starter Rick VandenHurk (4-4) surrendered just one run in five strong innings, scattering four hits while striking out five and walking one.

Anthony Reyes (2-13) struggled with his control early for the Cardinals before Willingham's grand slam in the third.

After VandenHurk reached on an error by third baseman Scott Rolen - one of four Cardinals errors - Reyes walked Hanley Ramirez and yielded a single by Dan Uggla that loaded the bases.

Reyes nearly escaped the jam, getting Miguel Cabrera to fly out to right and striking out Mike Jacobs. But Willingham worked the count full before crushing the ninth pitch of his at-bat - a belt-high fastball - 448 feet into the left field seats for the second grand slam of his career.

"It was a tough at-bat," Willingham said. "He did leave one up, and that's the one I hit. I was thinking about battling and trying to hit something hard somewhere. We've had some leads in the past week and haven't been able to expand on them. It's really good to get a win. We got up early and Cody kind of tacked it on, and we kind of coasted from there."

"He's steady," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Willingham. "He comes to the ballpark every day and he's the same guy. You couldn't tell if he was 0-for-40 or 40-for-40."

Reyes retired the Marlins in order in both the fourth and fifth innings before being lifted. The righthander allowed four unearned runs, three hits and three walks while striking out four.

"I definitely don't like what happened," Reyes said. "It's tough to swallow, but it's part of the game. I was just trying to stay calm. I was just telling myself to relax."

Ross launched his seventh home run of the season in the sixth. After back-to-back singles by Jeremy Hermida and Matt Treanor, Alejandro De Aza flied out for the second out of the inning. Ross greeted reliever Brad Thompson by depositing his 2-1 offering over the center field wall to give the Marlins a 7-1 lead.

"I just got a good pitch to hit," Ross said. "I wasn't trying to hit a homer there. Luckily, I got under it and hit it out."

The Marlins scored twice more before Willingham capped the team's scoring in the ninth with a two-run blast, his 21st homer of the season.

VandenHurk avoided trouble in the first inning as Rolen grounded out with runners on the corners and two outs.

After retiring the Cardinals in order in the second, the Netherlands native gave up his only run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Rick Ankiel that plated rookie Brendan Ryan.

"I felt good today," VandenHurk said. "We just came out and started swinging the bat hard and got a lot of runs. This is what we needed."

VandenHurk allowed just one hit in his final two innings, a single by Adam Wainwright, who later was thrown out by Treanor trying to steal second.

With two stolen bases in the game, Ramirez became the first player in Marlins history to steal 40 bases and hit 20 home runs in the same season. The 23-year-old shortstop currently has 41 steals and 23 blasts.








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    FLORIDA 0 0 4 0 0 4 0 1 2 11 12 1
    ST LOUIS 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 3 8 4 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: FLA - RICK VANDENHURK, LEE GARDNER (6TH), JUSTIN MILLER (7TH),
    ARMANDO BENITEZ (8TH), KEVIN GREGG (9TH) AND MATT TREANOR
    STL - ANTHONY REYES, RANDY FLORES (6TH), BR

    Aug 23 11:35 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JUAN ENCARNACION SCORED JIM EDMONDS AND SO
    TAGUCHI.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, J ENCARNACION ON FIRST, C DUNCAN ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 11
    ST LOUIS 3 BOTTOM, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: B RYAN (.348, 1-FOR-3)

    Marlins vs. CardinalsAug 23 11:31 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY JOSH WILLINGHAM (21) TO RIGHT CENTER
    WITH 0 OUT IN THE 9TH OFF TYLER JOHNSON SCORED MIKE JACOBS.
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 11, ST LOUIS 1
    DUE UP FOR FLORIDA: J HERMIDA (.276, 2-FOR-4)

    Marlins vs. CardinalsAug 23 11:10 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY HANLEY RAMIREZ SCORED ALEJANDRO DE AZA.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, H RAMIREZ ON FIRST, T LINDEN ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 9
    ST LOUIS 1 TOP, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR FLORIDA: D UGGLA (.249, 2-FOR-4, RBI)

    Marlins vs. CardinalsAug 23 10:53 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY DAN UGGLA SCORED HANLEY RAMIREZ.
    SITUATION: 4 RUNS IN, D UGGLA ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 8
    ST LOUIS 1 TOP, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR FLORIDA: M CABRERA (.326, 0-FOR-2, BB)

    Marlins vs. CardinalsAug 23 10:15 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    THREE-RUN HOME RUN BY CODY ROSS (7) TO CENTER WITH 2 OUT IN
    THE 6TH OFF BRAD THOMPSON SCORED JEREMY HERMIDA AND MATT TREANOR.
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 7, ST LOUIS 1
    DUE UP FOR FLORIDA: H RAMIREZ (.332, 0-FOR-1, 2 BB)

    Marlins vs. CardinalsAug 23 10:12 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY RICK ANKIEL SCORED BRENDAN RYAN.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, D ECKSTEIN ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 4
    ST LOUIS 1 BOTTOM, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: A PUJOLS (.321, 0-FOR-1)

    Marlins vs. CardinalsAug 23 9:28 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    GRAND SLAM BY JOSH WILLINGHAM (20) TO LEFT WITH 2 OUT IN
    THE 3RD OFF ANTHONY REYES SCORED RICK VANDENHURK, HANLEY RAMIREZ AND
    DAN UGGLA.
    CURRENT SCORE: FLORIDA 4, ST LOUIS 0
    DUE UP FOR FLORIDA: J HERMIDA (.271, 0-FOR-1)

    Marlins vs. CardinalsAug 23 9:12 PM