It was the beginning of the end (pause to weep bitterly) as the Fish and the Phils opened their final series of the regular season Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.
With the Marlins fighting the Braves for second place in the East, and the Phillies trying to secure home field advantage in the post-season, the Fish had plenty to play for despite being eliminated from the playoffs.
Hanley–in a slump the last few weeks, and hitless in his last 11 ABs–got the night off, but a strong start from Rick VandenHurk and the bats of Jorge Cantu and Cameron Maybin were all the Fish needed to nab their 86th win of the season.
With Joe Blanton on the mound, the Marlins got on the board in the first inning thanks to a two-run single from Jorge Cantu. But the Phils answered right back in the bottom of the first when Ryan Howard went deep off of Rick VandenHurk to tie up the game at two apiece.
Despite the early home run, Hurk made his last start of the season a good one. He allowed five hits through six solid innings, and after the long ball in the first, Hurk didn’t give up another run to the Phillies.
Once Howard tied the game, the Marlins wasted no time answering back. In the top of the second, Emilio Bonifacio singled, and back-to-back RBI doubles by Cameron Maybin and Chris Coghlan gave the Marlins a 4-2 lead.
In the seventh, the Marlins loaded the bases with nobody out, but only managed to push one run across the plate on an RBI from Dan Uggla. Joe Blanton was done after he faced one batter in the seventh, and finished the night with five earned runs on nine hits through six innings.
The Marlins added on again in the eighth inning when Cantu drove in his 99th run of the season on a sac fly, and John Baker hit an RBI single to give the Marlins a five-run advantage.
Jorge Cantu continued his RBI tear and drove in three of the Marlins seven runs in the game. Cantu, who drove in 25 in the month of Setember, sits just one RBI away from the century mark with two games left to play. Cameron Maybin also impressed Friday, batting second and going 4-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored.
With the win, the Marlins improved to 86-74, and are tied with the Braves for second place in the NL East. They also diminished the Phillies chances of home field advantage in the post-season.