MIAMI (AP) — Florida Marlins fans booed slumping Hanley Ramirez when he struck out in the eighth inning. Two batters later, they demanded a curtain call from Mike Stanton.
The turnaround in mood came quickly Sunday for the Marlins, who blew an eighth-inning lead before Stanton hit a three-run homer to beat the Colorado Rockies 6-3.
Omar Infante had a bases-loaded triple, Florida’s only hit off Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez.
The Marlins won with just three hits, none by Ramirez. The All-Star shortstop drew jeers for the second game in a row and finished 0 for 4, dropping his average to .182.
Even so, Ramirez said he’s having the most fun of his career.
“This is like a Little League team,” he said. “Everybody is happy, and happy to be here.”
It helps that the Marlins are winning. By taking two of three in the series, Florida (13-7) matched the best 20-game start in franchise history, achieved in 2004.
After Colorado scored twice in the top of the eighth, Infante singled in the bottom half against Matt Belisle (2-1). With two out, Gaby Sanchez walked, and Stanton pulled a hanging 1-0 slider into the left-field seats.
“We threw a very bad pitch to Mike Stanton,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “It was a breaking ball that didn’t do anything. He’s going to hit those balls out of the ballpark, it’s that simple.”
Stanton’s second homer this year earned him a curtain call from the crowd of 11,442. Slowed earlier by injuries to both hamstrings, the young slugger has hiked his average to .265.
“Being able to finally play every day and not have these mishaps here and there is good for me, and I’m getting a little more comfortable,” he said.
Mike Dunn (1-0) struck out Seth Smith with runners at the corners to end the eighth. Leo Nunez pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save in as many chances.
The game matched Josh Johnson against Jimenez — two pitchers who finished in the top five in NL Cy Young Award voting last year. Both brought their good stuff, and the teams remained hitless through the first 156 pitches.
“I looked up there, and it was a lot of zeros,” Johnson said. “I was like, `This is what everybody wanted.”‘
The game wasn’t exactly what Ramirez had in mind. The hitless afternoon left him 2 for his past 27, and manager Edwin Rodriguez said he may give the 2009 NL batting champion a day off Monday.
“I’m trying too hard, chasing bad pitches, and you see the pitches go 100 mph,” Ramirez said. “I’ve just got to calm down and get back on track.”
His attitude has drawn criticism in the past, and last year he was briefly benched for a lack of hustle. But new Marlins catcher John Buck praised the way Ramirez has dealt with his slump.
“All I heard about was as far as him not being a leader when stuff goes bad,” Buck said. “But I think the best thing that could happen is him starting out bad and being the team player he has been. He’s struggling probably the worst on the team, but when I’m making an out, he’s the first one patting me on the back.
“Whatever he has been in the past is far from what I’ve experienced here. And if he gets going, it’s going to be something fun.”
The Rockies are sputtering at the plate, too, despite leading the NL West. They had six hits against four Florida pitchers and totaled only 13 in the three-game series.
They did muster a rally from a 3-1 deficit in the eighth it against Clay Hensley. Carlos Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly and Troy Tulowitzki followed with a two-out RBI double.
The comeback cost the unbeaten Johnson his fourth win. He allowed three hits and one run in seven innings, inflating his ERA from 1.00 to 1.06, still the best in the majors.
Johnson held the Rockies hitless until Dexter Fowler and Jonathan Herrera hit back-to-back doubles with two out in the sixth. That ended a streak of 22 consecutive scoreless innings for Johnson.
The victory provided him plenty of consolation. In addition, after the game he got to meet actor Charlie Sheen, who was in attendance.
“I shook his hand,” Johnson said. “I’ve been watching him my whole life. Pretty cool.”
NOTES: Rockies C Chris Iannetta (stiff back) was held out for the second day in a row but may return to the starting lineup Monday. … Johnson has allowed only nine hits in his past three starts, and opponents are batting .116 against him. For right-handed hitters the average is .071. … Tulowitzki boosted his lifetime average in Miami to .174 (8 for 46).
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)