- The Washington Times - Friday, June 26, 2009

MIAMI (AP) | Hanley Ramirez and the rest of the Florida Marlins’ sluggers allowed Sean West to relax a little on the mound with a big lead.

Ramirez hit a grand slam, Cody Ross and Dan Uggla each homered and West scattered four hits in six scoreless innings as the Marlins cruised past the Baltimore Orioles 11-3 on Thursday night.

Florida led 5-0 in the third inning, allowing West (3-2) to notch his third win in his past four starts.

“It’s very easy to pitch with a lead like that,” he said. “The run support was great. Pitching and defense are key to a win, and when you have all three going, it’s unbeatable.”

It was the third grand slam of the season for Ramirez, and second in three games, tying him for the single-season franchise record with Ross (2009), Jeff Conine (2004) and Bobby Bonilla (1997). Ramirez has 13 RBIs in his past four games. He’s batting a major league-leading .429 with runners in scoring position.

Leading 7-0 in the eighth, Ramirez hit an 0-1 pitch from reliever Chris Ray over the left-field scoreboard.

“I have [Jorge] Cantu behind me so I know they have to pound the zone,” Ramirez said. “I think our starting pitching has been going deep in games. That’s the key to take us to a different level.”

After striking out the side in the first inning, Baltimore starter Rich Hill (3-2) struggled. He gave up six runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.

“This is a very good team, and they came out swinging,” Hill said. “They were ready to hit. They’re on a bit of a roll right now, and if you catch a team when they’re hot and get the bats going, sometimes it’s tough to put them out.”

Florida is two games above .500 for the first time since May 10 and has won five straight for the first time since its season-high seven consecutive victories from April 12-19. The Orioles lost their third consecutive game after winning five in a row coming into the series.

“We fell behind early, and we couldn’t stay away from the big inning,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. “They put back-to-back crooked numbers up, and we didn’t recover.”

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