MIAMI (CBS4) — The Florida Marlins had already rallied to take the lead when Logan Morrison saw a chance to squeeze out another run. He scored on a sacrifice pop fly to the first baseman.
The alert play capped a big night for Morrison, and the Marlins did a lot of little things right to beat AL East-leader Tampa Bay 5-3 on Friday.
“The intensity was there facing a first-place team,” Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez said. “We played a very solid game overall — pitching, defense, clutch hitting and power.”
And base running.
Morrison scored Florida’s final run from third in the eighth inning on a popup that Casey Kotchman retreated to catch on the grass behind first base.
Kotchman’s hurried throw home sailed wide as Morrison slid across the plate.
“That was a very aggressive, heads-up play,” Rodriguez said.
“I saw the first baseman got a late break, and his back was to the infield,” Morrison said. “I took off and was able to get in there. It’s a tough play for the first baseman to make. He’s got to turn around, set his feet and throw it home.”
Morrison hit a game-tying homer in the fourth and doubled in Florida’s two-run eighth. The Marlins fell behind 2-0 but rallied for their 14th come-from-behind win, which tied them with Colorado for the most in the majors.
“We never give up,” Morrison said. “Just because we’re down, we’re not out.”
Mike Stanton was credited with a sacrifice fly when his popup scored Morrison, and he hit his 10th homer, a line drive that quickly reached the club seats.
“That might have been the hardest ball I’ve ever seen hit,” Rays left fielder Johnny Damon said.
Chris Coghlan, who had been in a 3-for-33 slump, had two hits and scored a run.
Leo Nunez needed only seven pitches in a perfect ninth for his 16th save, most in the majors leagues. He has yet to blow a save.
The first game of the Citrus Series between the state’s two attendance-challenged teams drew a paid crowd of 18,111. The Marlins improved to 128-107 (.545) in interleague play, best in the NL.
With the score 3-all, the Rays wasted a leadoff double in the eighth, and Stanton caught Damon’s towering fly at the base of the right-field wall to end the inning against Mike Dunn (4-2).
Damon said he thought he had homered when the ball left his bat.
“Maybe I need to be in the weight room a little bit more,” he said.
Hanley Ramirez led off the bottom of the eighth with a single against Joel Peralta (1-3). Ramirez took third on Morrison’s double and scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Gaby Sanchez.
Matt Joyce tied a Rays record with two triples, but they lost for the fifth time in seven games. They have scored 22 runs during the slump.
Florida starter Anibal Sanchez departed for a pinch-hitter after seven innings with the score 3-all.
Andy Sonnanstine, making his third start this year, went five innings for the Rays and allowed three runs, including two homers in the fourth. Morrison led off the inning with his sixth homer, and with two outs Stanton homered to put Florida ahead 3-2.
“I felt pretty good,” Sonnanstine said. “The one pitch to Morrison I’d like to have back. The one to Stanton, I hit my spot. I have to tip my cap to him.”
Stanton, who started slowly this season after injuries to both hamstrings, leads in the NL with eight homers in May.
“I had to get my legs back,” he said. “I still can’t run full speed, but I feel under myself finally, and I’m not worrying if my leg is going to go. I’ve just been relaxed lately.”
Rays reliever J.P. Howell, activated before the game, pitched a scoreless sixth. The appearance came one year and one day after he underwent surgery to repair a shoulder injury that sidelined him all last season.
Rays center fielder B.J. Upton left the game in the third with tightness in his left buttock. He might be available off the bench Saturday, manager Joe Maddon said.