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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-18-2007, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
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ATLANTA (AP) -- Dontrelle Willis is pretty good most of the time. In April, the Florida left-hander is nearly perfect.

Willis pitched seven strong innings and the Marlins pounded out 12 hits to beat the Atlanta Braves 11-4 Friday night.

It was also the first game and win for Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez against the Braves, where he was the third-base coach the previous four seasons.

"I didn't relax one bit until it was over," said Gonzalez, who smiled but didn't say much about the meaning of the win.

"I told him congrats," said Willis, who moved closer to a record held by Babe Ruth.

Willis (3-0) is 12-1 with a .923 winning percentage in April. That's the second-best career percentage in April to the 13-1, .929 of Ruth, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Willis never thought about the record because he had no idea of it.

"Not at all. No disrespect to him (Ruth), but I didn't know about it," said Willis, who was well aware of his April handiwork.

"Yeah. It's one of those weird things in baseball. I wish I could pitch like I do in April for six months," he said.

Willis' only loss in 18 April starts was last season, a 3-1 setback at Chicago. The 25-year-old will try to match Ruth's record next week -- probably Wednesday -- at the New York Mets.

Hanley Ramirez had two hits and scored three runs for the Marlins, who had lost two straight. Cody Ross, Dan Uggla, Miguel Olivo and Joe Borchard drove in two runs apiece.

Willis allowed three earned runs and eight hits. He struck out five and walked one over 107 pitches.

Florida jumped on Atlanta starter Mark Redman (0-2) for five runs in the first inning. Olivo drove in two with a bases-loaded single. Ross followed with a two-run double and scored on a sacrifice fly from Aaron Boone.

"With Dontrelle on the mound, you're digging yourself a hole you don't want to be in," Atlanta's Chipper Jones said. "You know that you've got to score six right out of the gate. It's a full task."

The Marlins added two more in the third on Borchard's two-run single, ending the night for Redman, who allowed six hits and seven earned runs in 2 2-3 innings.

Jones hit a two-run homer off Willis in the third as Atlanta lost its second in a row. Andruw Jones scored on Willis' balk in the sixth.

"I'm shocked that it went out. He jammed me. It's a shame it couldn't have come on a happier night," Chipper Jones said of his second home run of the season.

Atlanta's Chad Paronto left with a strained muscle in the seventh inning, limping off the mound after throwing a third strike past Ross. Manager Bobby Cox said Paronto would likely go on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday.

The Marlins added two unearned runs in the eighth when right-fielder Jeff Francoeur dropped Borchard's fly ball. Miguel Cabrera had a RBI single and Josh Willingham added a run-scoring groundout.
Good to see the D-Train out to a good start.
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-18-2007, 03:25 PM Thread Starter
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A 2 1/2 hour rain-delay prevented the start of the game.
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-18-2007, 03:27 PM Thread Starter
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ATLANTA (AP) -- It was windy. It was chilly. No big deal for Tim Hudson.

Chipper Jones hit a three-run homer, Andruw Jones added a two-run shot and Hudson pitched seven strong innings to lead the Atlanta Braves to an 8-4 win over the Florida Marlins on Sunday.

"It wasn't exactly ideal conditions," said Hudson. "It's not that it was cold, but it was really windy, making it pretty chilly."

The temperature at game-time was 45 degrees with 22 mph winds.

"this was more like football weather than baseball weather," said Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez. "It was a tough day to play."

It was the third home run in the last four games for Chipper Jones, who has seven RBIs during that stretch. His 396-foot blast in the third inning off Scott Olsen (2-1) capped a five-run inning and ended Atlanta's two-game losing streak. Andruw Jones hit his third of season in the fifth off Rick Vanden Hurk.

Hudson (2-0), who is 102-17 in his career when his team scores at least four runs, allowed one run and six hits, walking four and striking out four. The right-hander, who is 5-0 against the Marlins, was helped by three double plays.

"Today was one of those days that I bent, but didn't break," said Hudson, who has allowed two earned runs in his three starts and has an ERA of 0.86.

"I couldn't ask for a better start," said Hudson. "We were able to put together a big inning and that allowed me to relax. My command was not there, but a lot of that was due to the conditions.

"It was a tough day to get the feel and I fell behind a lot but was able to make pitched when I needed to."

The only run off Hudson came in the first when Hanley Ramirez led off with a single, stole second and went to third on an infield single by Dan Uggla. Ramirez scored when Miguel Cabrera, who entered the game leading the National League with a .429 average and 13 RBIs, grounded into a double play.

"That's the kind of pitcher he is," said Florida's first-year manager Fredi Gonzalez, who was a Braves coach the previous four seasons.

"He's up there with the top pitchers. They will give up a run, but they don't let things get out of hand," he said.

"Huddy continues to dominate. Every start has been like today. He's been brilliant," said Braves manager Bobby Cox.

Hudson was coming off his worst season a year ago when he was 13-12 with a career-high 4.86 ERA.

"He's spotting the ball much better. His control is so much better," said Cox. "He's on a mission. He's going to win a ton."

The Braves sent 10 batters to the plate in the third. Craig Wilson led off with a single before Olsen walked Hudson and Kelly Johnson to load the bases. Edgar Renteria singled to left scoring Wilson and when the throw home got past catcher Miguel Oliva for an error, Hudson scored. Chipper Jones followed with his drive over the left field fence to give the Braves a 5-1 lead.

"Chipper got us ahead and that about did it. That home run was huge. It sealed it for us," said Cox.

"I got killed. I couldn't throw strikes," said Olsen, who said his 0-2 pitch to Jones was "down, but not as far down as it should have been."

Atlanta made it 7-1 in the fifth when Chipper Jones walked and Andruw followed with a 389-foot drive into the left field stands.

The Braves added a run in the sixth when Jorge Julio walked four batters, including Jeff Francoeur with the bases full.

The Marlins scored three runs in the ninth off reliever Peter Moylan, including two on a triple by Alfredo Amezaga.
A 5-run 5th inning from the Braves did not really help the Marlins much.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-18-2007, 03:29 PM Thread Starter
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HOUSTON (AP) -- Several of Morgan Ensberg's teammates said they knew he'd win the game for the Astros after Joe Borchard crashed into Dan Uggla, knocking the ninth-inning, bases-loaded foul pop out of the second baseman's glove.

They were right.

Given another chance, Ensberg singled to left on the next pitch, giving Houston a 4-3 victory over the Florida Marlins on Monday night.

"Oh, now it's over," Carlos Lee remembered thinking after the near miss. "They had their chance and they blew it."

Chad Qualls (2-1), who allowed no hits and struck out three in 1 2-3 scoreless innings for the win, agreed.

"I looked at everybody in the dugout and we all said, 'For sure the game is over,"' Qualls recalled. "That's just what happens in this game when you give somebody a second chance."

Ensberg wasn't as sure as his teammates, but was simply thankful for another opportunity.

"After fouling off three of them, I was very excited," he said. "You absolutely want to be in that situation -- the ninth inning with a chance to win the game. It's what you play for."

Kevin Gregg (0-1) walked Mark Loretta and Lance Berkman in the ninth inning, and Lee singled to load the bases with no outs for Ensberg. Uggla backpedaled for the popup and was under it when Borchard ran into him from behind.

Uggla and Borchard weren't available for comment after the game. Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez downplayed the importance of the mistake, which was not ruled an error.

"We still would have to play the infield in, and then we face (Luke) Scott and a pinch hitter," Gonzalez said. "We would've liked to have had the opportunity, but I don't think that's the ballgame."

Gregg allowed two hits and one run with two walks in the ninth.

"It was unacceptable to walk those two guys," he said. "That's just not going to get the job done."

He also defended the play by Uggla and Borchard.

"They were trying hard," Gregg said. "They were just trying to catch the ball and ensure the out. You can't blame them for that."

Houston starter Wandy Rodriguez allowed one run and five hits in six innings, while Florida's Anibal Sanchez gave up one run, four hits and six walks in five innings.

"I felt good and had good control today," Rodriguez said.

Astros manager Phil Garner was happy with the performance of Rodriguez, who hasn't gotten a win since last July.

"I would like for him to get the win out of it, but I thought he threw the ball really well," Garner said.

Brad Ausmus' sacrifice fly put Houston ahead in the fourth, but Miguel Olivo's RBI double tied it in the fifth.

Loretta hit a two-run single in the sixth off Matt Lindstrom -- Loretta's third hit and first RBIs of the season -- but Borchard and Uggla had run-scoring singles against Rick White in the seventh.
Hanley Ramirez continues to swing a hot bat.
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 04-18-2007, 03:32 PM Thread Starter
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HOUSTON (AP) -- Carlos Lee wasn't horsing around with a promise he made to his fan club before the game.

Lee, nicknamed "El Caballo" or "The Horse," received a stick horse from the fans who call themselves "Los Caballitos" before Tuesday's game and vowed he'd ride it if he hit a homer.

Lee hit a two-run home run and drove in two more runs to lead the Houston Astros to a 6-1 win over the Florida Marlins.

The home run to the Crawford Boxes in left field off Jorge Julio put Houston ahead 2-1 in the fourth. Lee trotted around the bases and then made good on his promise when he galloped through the dugout on the stick horse while receiving congratulatory pats from his teammates.

"I promised them that I would do it and I did it," he said with the furry horse peeking out of his locker over his right shoulder.

The spectacle of Lee, who is 240-pounds, riding the horse even elicited a chuckle from the ever-serious Roy Oswalt.

"That's a big man on a horse," Oswalt said.

Lee's two-run double in the fifth that bounced off the wall in left field chased Julio. Lee, who is in his first season in Houston, has 16 RBIs in his last 11 games.

"This is a crazy game," he said. "I play hard ... I don't know at the end of the day what it's going to be, but I enjoy the game."

Julio (0-2) hit Craig Biggio with a pitch to open the fifth inning, Morgan Ensberg singled and Lance Berkman walked to load the bases before Lee's hit. Adam Everett followed with an RBI single, and Lee scored on Brad Ausmus' forceout.

Astros ace Oswalt (3-0), who was pitching on short rest, allowed one run -- Hanley Ramirez homered on his third pitch -- and six hits in 6 1-3 innings.

"That was vintage Roy," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "He did a masterful job."

He has won nine straight decisions dating to August, tying a career high. He struck out seven and walked three. The Astros have scored 15 runs in Oswalt's last two starts, a statistic that is comforting to him after Houston's offensive struggles last season.

"It's a big plus," he said. "Once you get a cushion, you can kind of just go right after guys. Before then you kind of have to pitch with caution to not give up too many runs."

Florida has lost three in a row and five of six.

Julio allowed six runs and five hits in one inning for the loss.

Berkman appeared to have homered in the sixth, but right fielder Joe Borchard jumped and stretched back to make the catch at the wall among outstretched arms of several fans.

Florida right-hander Sergio Mitre tore a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand and left after one out.

"I couldn't tell you how it happened," he said. "It just started stinging sometime in the first couple of pitches I guess. Sometime during Biggio's at bat I started feeling it."

The Marlins first said it was a callus, but manager Fredi Gonzalez called it a blister after the game. Mitre struck out Biggio and Ensberg had a 2-2 count when the pitcher was replaced by Kevin Gregg, the first of five relievers.

"He ripped the skin off a blister," Gonzalez said. "We didn't want to make it worse. The trainer says let's wait and see how it goes."

Biggio had two hits to pass Frank Robinson for 30th on the hits list with 2,944.

Astros reliever Brad Lidge, replaced as closer last week, came in with one out in the eighth and allowed one hit and walked one.

Houston begins a four-city, nine-game road trip Wednesday, but Lee's new companion won't be making the trip.

"He's a home horse. He has to stay at home," Lee joked. "You can't bring a horse on the road -- too much maintenance."
8 hits, but 21 left on base.
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