- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - After taking the first two games of a weekend series against the Nationals in extra innings, the Florida Marlins took care of business a bit earlier on Sunday.

If that’s what you call the ninth inning.

Cody Ross hit a three-run double and the Marlins rallied for their seventh straight win, 7-4 over bumbling Washington, to improve to 11-1, the best record in the majors.

“It’s not just one guy getting the job done. Multiple people are capable of getting the job done,” said Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla. “It’s not always going to be the guys you think its going to be.”

It was Ross in this one, with a big assist from the bullpen. Ross also hit the tying homer in the eighth inning and finished with five RBIs, while a string of relievers _ Hayden Penn, Renyel Pinto, Kiko Calero and Leo Nunez (2-0) _ got the game to closer Matt Lidstrom.

The Nationals managed just one run and three hits over the final 4 2-3 innings.

“We’ve had to cover a lot of innings in that bullpen,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said, “and those guys have been able to step up and done a terrific job.”

Saul Rivera (0-3) took the loss after giving up Ross’s three-run double in the ninth, and was part of a major overhaul by the Nationals immediately after the game.

Frustrated with their 1-10 start and horrendous performances by the bullpen _ 0-5 with a 6.48 ERA in 41 2-3 innings _ the Nationals optioned Rivera and catcher Josh Bard to Triple-A Syracuse, and designated relievers Steven Shell and Wil Ledezma for assignement.

The club plans to promote top prospect Jordan Zimmermann to start Monday night against Atlanta, along with veteran Kip Wells. Garret Mock and Jason Bermann also will be recalled.

“I think it’s embarrassing. I think it’s unacceptable. I think our fans have every right to be mad like we are right now,” said perennially positive Washington manager Manny Acta.

“And it’s not going to be tolerated. We’re going to have a brand-new bullpen tomorrow, and if those guys who come in don’t get it done, we’re going to continue getting guys out of here, because I think all of us deserve better.”

Phillies 5, Padres 4

At Philadelphia, Raul Ibanez hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning for the Phillies.

Ryan Howard started the rally with a leadoff single against Edwin Moreno (0-1), and Ibanez followed by hitting a 2-0 pitch into the right-field stands.

Clay Condrey (2-0) picked up the win working one inning in relief.

Giants 2, Diamondbacks 0

At San Francisco, 45-year-old Randy Johnson took a no-hitter into the seventh, earning his 296th career win in his first start against his former team.

Johnson (1-2) turned it over to Bob Howry, and Brian Wilson ended it for his second save.

Max Scherzer (0-1) struck out six in five innings for Arizona, yielding one run.

Dodgers 14, Rockies 2

At Los Angeles, Matt Kemp hit a grand slam and a solo homer, Andre Ethier and Orlando Hudson also went deep, and the Dodgers picked up their eighth straight win.

Scott Elbert (1-0) allowed two runs and three hits in 2 2-3 innings for Los Angeles, while Ubaldo Jimenez (1-2) was tagged for seven runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings for Colorado.

Reds 4, Astros 2

At Houston, pitcher Micah Owings hit a pinch-hit, two-run double to lead the Reds.

Owings, who won the 2007 NL Silver Slugger award for pitchers, is 2-for-3 as a pinch hitter this season. Geoff Geary (0-1) set up the tiebreaking hit with a throwing error that allowed Jerry Hairston Jr. to score before Owings came to the plate.

Edinson Volquez (2-1) struck out seven in six innings for Cincinnati, yielding one run and four hits with five walks. Francisco Cordero pitched the ninth for his fourth save.

Braves 11, Pirates 1

At Pittsburgh, Martin Prado and David Ross hit three-run homers to support Javier Vazquez’s six shutout innings, and the Braves snapped a five-game losing streak.

The Braves hadn’t scored in 22 innings and the Pirates hadn’t allowed a run in 21, streaks that ended when Jeff Francoeur’s single keyed a three-run first off Zach Duke (2-1).

Vazquez (1-1) struck out eight, gave up five hits and walked one. He has 20 strikeouts in 12 innings over his last two starts, 12 during a 5-1 loss to Florida on Tuesday.

Brewers 4, Mets 2

At New York, Mike Cameron homered against his former team and Todd Coffey escaped a pair of late jams during an eight-out save, helping the Brewers avoid the sweep.

Jeff Suppan (1-2) bounced back from two poor starts to begin the season, pitching into the seventh inning. Milwaukee improved to 28-51 against the Mets since moving to the NL in 1998.

The Mets went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and wasted a credible spot start by Nelson Figueroa (0-1), called up to pitch in place of Mike Pelfrey (forearm tendinitis).

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