MIAMI (AP) -The Florida Marlins have some fight left in them after all, maybe even the kind to get back in the playoff race.
Hanley Ramirez hit a tying, pinch-hit single and scored the go-ahead run in his first game since teammate Dan Uggla publicly challenged his effort, lifting the Florida Marlins over the Atlanta Braves 8-3 Thursday night.
``He came out in the afternoon and he tested it and hit in the cages and said, 'I'm good to pinch hit,'' Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ``And did he.'
Ramirez emerged in the clubhouse afterward, a towel draped around his waist and wearing a yellow jersey T-shirt of former teammate and current Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera. He then headed back to the training room, and a Marlins spokesman said Ramirez would not be speaking to reporters.
Ramirez's single in the sixth off Kris Medlen (3-5) made it 3-all. The NL batting leader easily made it to second when right fielder Matt Diaz let the ball skip by him for an error, then scored on Cody Ross' double to highlight a six-run inning.
``I don't know how severe his injury was, but I know he's their guy. He can hit, and why wouldn't they want to give him a chance to get the winning run across?' Medlen said.
Ramirez had said a day earlier that he ``got some people upset' for leaving Tuesday's game with a tight left hamstring. Uggla overheard him and openly argued with the All-Star shortstop in the clubhouse.
Uggla accused him of a lack of desire and effort to win and went as far as saying Ramirez didn't care because he's already secured a $70 million, six-year contract.
Gonzalez said Ramirez will be evaluated before the team's game at Washington on Friday before deciding if he will start.
The Marlins salvaged a split of the four-game series. They moved into a tie with Atlanta for third in the wild-card race, four games behind Colorado.
``It was a good series,' said Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco (10-8), who gave up three runs in six innings. ``We didn't get off to a good start, but at least to salvage the last two and pick this up and put some pressure on them was big.'
Whether the dustup and ensuing closed-door meeting ignited the Marlins, one thing's for sure: They needed Ramirez's bat in the lineup.
His one-out single ended an 0-for-14 slump and sparked a Marlins lineup that had been struggling for most of the last week, pushing themselves out of the playoff picture.
Chris Coghlan, Nick Johnson and Jorge Cantu all followed with RBI singles in the inning. Only two runs were earned in the sixth, with Braves third baseman Chipper Jones dropping a foul ball earlier in Coghlan's at-bat to go along with Diaz's misplay.
The Braves tried to show a little fight themselves.
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox was ejected for the sixth time this season to extend his major league record to 149. This one occurred in the eighth for what appeared to be arguing balls and strikes with Atlanta's Garret Anderson at the plate.
``I think, honestly, I could umpire - just call everything a ball except for pitches right down the middle,' said Cox, who called home plate ump Jim Wolf a good umpire.
The rest of Cox's team just didn't do much.
Brian McCann hit his 18th home run of the season in the second to put Atlanta ahead 1-0. Florida tied it on a double by Cameron Maybin in the third, then Martin Prado and Jones each had RBI singles in the fifth to give the Braves a 3-1 lead.
NOTES: Coghlan was picked for NL rookie of the month honors. He had a major league-best 47 hits in 28 games during August while batting .385. ... Braves OF Nate McLouth (strained left hamstring) was scheduled to play with Single-A Rome on Thursday night. He will likely be activated for the weekend series against Cincinnati. ... Marlins LHP Andrew Miller, who struggled in last few starts in the majors in mid-August and was sent to the minors, will likely rejoin the sometime during its weekend series in Washington, manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved