MIAMI (AP) - Joe Mahoney is hoping to take advantage of the opportunity he has been given.
He helped his cause by hitting his first career home run Friday night, providing a bright spot in the Miami Marlins' 4-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
The 26-year old first baseman had played in 619 games in the minor leagues and just two in the majors before this season.
``He's kind of a wild card,' Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. ``He's never been given an opportunity. He's getting a chance to go out there and get some at_bats. Hopefully he'll make the most of it.'
Mahoney's homer for the Marlins in the fourth to cut the deficit to 4-1.
``In the heat of the battle I was just thinking we're three down,' Mahoney said. ``I'll reflect more on it probably tonight. But it's starting to sink in. It's good to get the first one out of the way and kind of settle in. I've been waiting to get that one for a while now. It's definitely a good feeling.'
After the game, Mahoney exchanged a signed hat and bat for the home run ball.
Before the game, Redmond declined to comment on a report that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria demanded that starting pitchers Jose Fernandez and Ricky Nolasco swap starts for Tuesday's day-night doubleheader against the Twins.
Loria's desire to have top rookie Fernandez start the day game caused friction with the team, according to the report by Yahoo! Sports.
``We were all on the call and it was an organizational decision and I'm going to leave it at that,' Redmond said when asked about the story.
Fernandez started the day game in which the Marlins lost 4-3.
While Mahoney provided a power surge for the Marlins on Friday, Anthony Rizzo hit two two-run homers to power Chicago to back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Rizzo's second career two-home run game gave him eight on the season, the most by a Cubs left-handed hitter in April. Billy Williams (1970) and Henry Rodriguez (2000) each hit seven.
``It's all about production and that's what I'm supposed to do,' Rizzo said.
Scott Feldman (1-3) allowed two runs in 6 2-3 innings, Kevin Gregg recorded his second save, and Darwin Barney had three hits for Chicago, which beat Miami 4-3 on Thursday and had been 0-6 following a win.
``You can say it as many times as you want, but winning is so much more fun than losing,' Feldman said.
Rizzo, who hails from nearby Parkland, Fla., and had about 100 supporters in attendance, came into the game mired in a 1-for-20 slump and hitting .173 on the season, but broke out by going 3 for 4 with a stolen base.
He was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts in the first game of the series on Thursday.
Rizzo hit a two-run homer off Wade LeBlanc (0-4) in the first inning to deep center that was estimated at 420 feet. He followed that blast with an estimated 413-foot two-run shot to the upper deck in right field in his next at-bat, again off LeBlanc, who allowed four runs in six innings.
``I made a few mistakes that I got away with tonight, but the two that really hurt me are the two that I need to execute better,' LeBlanc said.
After Mahoney's homer pulled Miami within 4-1, Feldman got into a jam in the seventh after Chris Coghlan's double gave the Marlins a pair of runners on base with one out. Chris Valaika's sacrifice fly pulled Miami within 4-2 and a walk to Austin Kearns ended Feldman's night. James Russell came on in relief and retired Juan Pierre to get out of the inning.
Miami threatened again in the eighth with two on and two out, but Rob Brantly popped out to end the inning.
``We just have to keep talking to them,' Redmond said. ``If they see me starting to panic, then that puts more pressure on everybody else. I'm not that way.'
Gregg sent the Marlins down in order in the ninth to earn his second save in as many chances.
NOTES: Rizzo also hit two home runs against Pittsburgh on Sept. 16, 2012. ... Cubs RHP Matt Garza had a flat-ground throwing session on Friday. ``It went really well, no tightness or soreness so he'll go again (Saturday),' said Sveum, who expects Garza to have three or four rehab starts before returning to the big league club by May 20. ... Marlins RHP Alex Sanabia (2-2, 5.09 ERA) will start Saturday's game against Cubs LHP Travis Wood (1-1, 2.08 ERA).
The Associated Press News Service
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