Timely hits lift Florida over Tampa Bay

MIAMI (AP) -- Florida made the most of its two hits.

Miguel Cabrera hit an RBI triple and scored on Juan Pierre's sacrifice fly, and Mike Lowell hit a solo homer to lead the Florida Marlins to a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Sunday.

The Marlins (38-39) pulled within a game of .500 for the first time since May 2, when they were 15-16.

"Our goal is to win every series possible. If we peck away like that, pretty soon we'll be at .500," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said.

Cabrera's third-inning triple hit high off of a billboard in center field. Just a few feet to the right, and the 20-year-old Cabrera's second career hit might have also been his second career home run.

"My confidence is growing," Cabrera said. "The more pitches I see, the better I feel."

Cabrera's other hit was an 11th-inning walkoff home run in the first game of the series Friday.

"The guy wins two out of three games with key hits," McKeon said. "That's important. If he goes 2-for-10 next week and they are two game-winning hits, we'll take that."

Later in the inning, Cabrera almost got caught on a suicide-squeeze attempt when Pierre had to reach way outside to get his bat on the ball. Pierre's bunt rolled foul, but he ended up driving in Cabrera on a sacrifice fly.

Florida's next hit came in the seventh when Lowell hit his 23rd home run of the season, which leads the majors.

"Two mistakes cost me the game," pitcher Jeremi Gonzalez said.

"I was trying to throw fastballs away and down. I left them up and I (yielded) a triple and a home run."

Lowell had just one hit in his previous 19 at-bats.

"I wasn't sure I hit a line drive but I got it over the wall. It was a good feeling. It's quite a difference when you have a two-run lead instead of a one run lead,'' Lowell said.

Gonzalez (3-3) gave up three runs, two hits and one walk in seven innings.

Gonzalez left the field for several minutes in the fourth inning to sit on the dugout bench with his right shoe and sock off while a trainer attended to a blister on his foot. He returned to the field
and got out the Marlins out in order.

"Jeremi's been pitching very well. And once we put the tape on his foot was fine," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said.

Carl Pavano (6-8) retired the first 13 batters before giving up four straight hits in the fifth inning. He allowed two runs and seven hits in 7 1/3 innings.

"It's great to see us (starters) going seven, eight, nine innings," Pavano said. "That's what is going to take to win us ballgames."

Braden Looper got four outs for his 13th save.

Lee hit a double with one out in the fifth but held up at third on a single up the middle by Marlon Anderson. Anderson was caught off first base when center fielder Pierre's throw to the plate was
cut off.

Lee scored on Damian Rolls' single to center. Rolls' moved to third on a ball hit off the base of the right-field wall by Javier Valentin, but Pavano got Gonzalez to pop out to end the inning.

"Our pitchers are battling, there's nothing else you can say. They're doing a great job, they're battling, and we're just not getting the runs for them," Rolls said.

The Devil Rays missed out on a chance to tie the game in the seventh. Lee led off the inning with his second double of the game, and advanced to third on Pavano's balk. But Anderson popped out to
Lowell on the steps of the Devil Rays' dugout, and Rolls grounded out softly to drawn in second baseman Luis Castillo. Valentin struck out swinging to end the inning.

"That's how it's been all year," Lee said. "We have good pitching, no offense. We have good offense, no pitching. So we've just got to stick it together."

Pavano left the game with one on and one out in the eighth. Aubrey Huff hit an RBI single off Looper to make it 3-2.

Game notes
The Marlins swept the Citrus Series, bringing their all-time record to 20-11 over the Devil Rays. ... Juan Encarnacion was ejected by home plate umpire Jerry Meals in seventh inning for
arguing about a called third strike. ... Florida RHP Josh Beckett will make his second rehabilitation start on with Carolina on Thursday.