With Edwin Rodriguez in place as manager for rest of season, Marlins edge Mets 7-6

By David Mcfadden, AP
Tuesday, June 29, 2010

With Rodriguez in place, Marlins edge Mets 7-6

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Hanley Ramirez hit a grand slam and Dan Uggla singled home the winning run in the ninth inning for his third RBI, giving Florida a 7-6 victory over the New York Mets on Tuesday night hours after the Marlins announced Edwin Rodriguez will remain their manager for the rest of the season.

New York scored twice in the ninth off closer Leo Nunez (3-1), tying it at 6 on a single by pinch-hitter Josh Thole — his second hit this season. It was Nunez’s fourth blown save in 20 chances

Pedro Feliciano (2-3) retired his first two batters in the bottom of the ninth, but Jorge Cantu doubled to right-center and Uggla hit a grounder up the middle.

Cantu slid home safely, beating a strong throw by center fielder Jesus Feliciano, and Uggla was mobbed by excited teammates in the infield.

Uggla also had a two-run homer to cap a six-run third against starter Hisanori Takahashi. Earlier in the inning, Ramirez’s slam wiped out a 3-0 deficit for Florida.

It was the eighth grand slam served up by the Mets this season, most in the majors, and it brought a thunderous roar from Marlins fans at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

Florida has won the first two games of the three-game series in San Juan. Back in March, Major League Baseball moved this series from Miami, where the Marlins draw sparse crowds, to this U.S. Caribbean island’s capital. And even though Puerto Rico is in the midst of a grinding, four-year recession, fans proved willing to open their wallets for a chance to see two major league teams.

Tuesday’s typically exuberant Puerto Rican crowd included rows of island Little Leaguers and some fans who danced to merengue.

It’s been a particularly thrilling week for Rodriguez, who lives about five minutes from the ballpark.

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria told the team before the game Tuesday night that Rodriguez will remain as manager through the rest of this season.

Rodriguez is the first native of Puerto Rico to manage in the major leagues. He was named interim manager last Wednesday when Florida fired Fredi Gonzalez, its all-time winningest skipper.

Rodriguez, who had been managing Florida’s Triple-A team in New Orleans before he was summoned to the big club, was warmly embraced by his players in the dugout before the game. The club made the announcement in the second inning, and the Marlins improved to 3-4 under Rodriguez.

Trailing by three, Florida first gained control of the game with a two-out rally in the third, started by a single from starting pitcher Nate Robertson. Chris Coghlan walked, Gaby Sanchez singled and New York’s early advantage quickly disappeared with Ramirez’s grand slam.

Cantu followed with a double before Uggla went deep.

Down 6-4 in the ninth, the Mets rallied.

Rod Barajas singled and went to third on a double by pinch-hitter Chris Carter. Jeff Francoeur drove in a run with a groundout that sent pinch-runner Alex Cora to third. Thole then grounded a single through a drawn-in infield to tie it.

Nunez retired Ike Davis and struck out Jose Reyes to end the inning.

Reyes had an RBI double in the third and Angel Pagan added a sacrifice fly. Jason Bay hit a sacrifice fly for the Mets in the first.

NOTES: Pagan, who is from Puerto Rico, returned to the lineup in center field after missing five games because of muscle spasms in his right side. Pagan left 100 tickets for family and friends. … Ramirez leads NL All-Star fan voting at shortstop. … New York LHP Oliver Perez (knee) is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment Wednesday.

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