Hanley Ramirez and the rest of the 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 over 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 last four starts.
“It’s very easy to pitch with a lead like that,” West 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 last four games. He is now 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 over 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.”
The Marlins pounded out 17 hits, one shy of their season-high 18 on June 14 at Toronto, and every Marlins position player got at least one hit as they swept the three-game series against Baltimore.
“It was just a great series for us, all around, pitching, defense, hitting,” Ross said. “They’ve got a good team and they’ve been playing well. They came in here hot and we knew we’d have to get up to play these guys after the Yankees series. We couldn’t let down and we didn’t.”
Florida is two games above .500 for the first time since May 10 and have 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.
“Let’s give the Marlins a lot of credit. 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.”
The Marlins took a 2-0 lead in the second when Ross homered over the left-field scoreboard, driving in Uggla, who singled with one out.
Hill’s problems continued in the third. Florida stretched its lead to 3-0 when Ramirez singled in Chris Coghlan, who doubled to open the inning. One out later, Uggla hit his team-leading 15th homer to make it 5-0.
After giving up back-to-back doubles to Ramirez and Cantu in the fifth, Hill was replaced by Mark Hendrickson with the score 6-0.
The Orioles scored three runs in the ninth off Christopher Leroux on RBI doubles by Greg Zaun and Nick Markakis, who reached base five times with four hits and a walk.
“I thought we had good at-bats against (West), but nothing to show for it,” Markakis said. “We hit some balls hard, but that’s how it ends up sometimes.”