PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Marlins are heading home without their manager and on a losing streak. They can only hope playing at their new ballpark in Miami brings a new look to the season.
Mark Buehrle pitched into the seventh inning, but Miami managed just six hits in a 3-1 loss to Joe Blanton and the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night.
The Marlins lost their second straight game without manager Ozzie Guillen. He was suspended five games by the Marlins on Tuesday for saying he admired Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
Miami (2-5) open a six-game homestand Friday against Houston. Bench coach Joey Cora hopes an extended stay at home can ignite some lethargic bats.
``We need some rhythm,' he said. ``Hopefully, we can get some of that at home now, and see where it takes us. It's still too early. You look up, and you've still only played - what? - seven games? We just have to keep battling.'
Blanton (1-1) allowed a run and three hits over seven innings in his first start following an injury-plagued season. Blanton had two lengthy stints on the disabled list and pitched in only 11 games in 2011, the lowest for a full season in his career.
Blanton is often overlooked in a rotation that boasts three aces. Against the Marlins, he was as effective as he was during his first two seasons in Philadelphia.
``I wanted to get back to who I was and keep the ball down in the zone,' Blanton said.
He did just that against the Marlins. Blanton outdueled Buehrle (0-2) to help the five-time NL East champions win their second straight game and move back to .500.
The 31-year-old Blanton made only eight starts last season because of elbow problems. He was in a groove and had good command of his fastball while throwing 85 pitches against Miami. He felt strong enough to keep pitching, but manager Charlie Manuel decided to play it safe.
``It's fun just to be back out there and not have anything weighing on my mind,' Blanton said. ``By the end of spring, I had a feeling my stuff was pretty good. I had a lot of positives coming out of spring.'
Aided by a shutdown bullpen, Blanton earned his first win since May 9, 2011, also against the Marlins.
Jonathan Papelbon took the mound in the ninth to Marilyn Manson's ``Antichrist Superstar,' and quickly ran into trouble. But he retired John Buck on a game-ending double play for his second save.
Buehrle allowed three runs and eight hits over 6 1-3 innings.
``I was making good pitches tonight, they just hit the ball hard and a few got in there,' he said. ``But I threw well, and I thought my location was there.'
The Phillies broke through for seven runs a night earlier against the Marlins after scoring a combined eight runs over the first four games. They couldn't put together a big inning against Buehrle - but a team that became annual contenders on the back of the long ball went deep twice.
Buehrle retired the first nine batters before Shane Victorino led off the fourth with a shot to left for Philadelphia's third home run of the season. John Mayberry Jr. added a run-scoring single later in the inning for a 2-0 lead.
The Marlins made it 2-1 when right fielder Hunter Pence misplayed Buck's low liner and couldn't come up with the ball, scoring Omar Infante.
That was it for the Marlins. Chad Qualls tossed a scoreless eighth, working out of a jam after Miami put runners on first and second with two outs. He caught Giancarlo Stanton looking at a 92 mph fastball to end the threat.
``There's only so long you can keep saying that it's early before you just have to start doing it,' Stanton said. ``But it'll be good for us to get home, and get a full series in. It'll give us a chance to get comfortable there, and just start hitting. Because that's how baseball works sometimes. You're ripping them all over the place, but you're hitting them right at someone. That's been the case for us.'
Ty Wigginton homered in the seventh to make it 3-1.
NOTES: Former Philadelphia OF Pat Burrell will sign a one-day minor league contract and retire with the organization. Burrell will officially retire as a Phillie during the Boston Red Sox series in May at Citizens Bank Park. He'll be honored May 19 and throw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... Buehrle dropped to 3-1 lifetime vs. the Phillies.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved