Florida never overcomes five-run first

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- When his team is hitting, everything looks better to Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

Imagine how he must have felt after five quick runs off Florida's Josh Beckett.

Bobby Abreu hit a three-run homer and the Phillies jumped on the Marlins ace for five runs in the first inning en route to an 8-6 victory Sunday.

"Hitting makes you look good," Manuel said. "When a guy is hitting, he looks faster running the bases and better in the field."

The Phillies looked just fine without slugger Jim Thome, who sat with a strained lower back. Tomas Perez filled in with three hits and three RBI in his second start of the season.

"It's my job to be ready and wait for the opportunity," Perez said. "The big guy got hurt and hopefully he'll be back real soon."

Billy Wagner got five outs for his sixth save in as many chances. The hard-throwing lefty relieved Tim Worrell in the eighth inning with runners on first and second and one out and got Mike Lowell to bounce into a double play.

Manuel had limited Wagner to one-inning appearances throughout April.

"Wagner was fresh, so I went and got him," Manuel said.

Wagner and Manuel had talked in spring training about his workload. Wagner felt that several two-inning stints early in the season had led to his injury-plagued 2004 season.

"We agreed for the first one or two weeks of the season, he wasn't going to use me for two innings or four days in a row," Wagner said.

But Wagner didn't want to talk about his pitching. He was still pumped about the line-drive single he had in the eighth inning -- his second major-league hit and first since July 14, 1998.

His manager didn't seem that impressed.

"He couldn't get a double, could he?" Manuel asked with a sly smile.

The Phillies were in a jovial mood thanks to their fast start on Sunday.

Beckett (4-2) labored right from the start, requiring 51 pitches to get through the opening frame.

"I just couldn't get into a groove," Beckett said. "When you're facing big-league hitters, you can't go out there with nothing and expect to do well."

In his previous five starts, Beckett had allowed five earned runs in 33 innings. The Phillies needed just eight batters to hang five runs on the Marlins starter.

Jimmy Rollins roped the first pitch of the game to right-center for a double. After Placido Polanco walked, Abreu completed a tough 10-pitch at-bat with a long three-run homer into the second deck.

Perez and Todd Pratt added RBI singles to close out the first.

Beckett lasted just one more inning in his shortest outing of the season. He gave up five runs on five hits, ballooning his ERA from 1.35 to 2.57 -- below average for a Marlins team with a 2.54 ERA.

"Our pitching has been so good, you can expect these guys to have a bad outing once in a while," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said.

Florida cut the deficit to 5-3 in the third off Phillies starter Cory Lidle. Alex Gonzalez hit a two-run homer and Carlos Delgado
added a sacrifice fly.

The Phillies pushed across two more runs in the fifth against Brian Moehler. Jason Michaels hit a sacrifice fly and Perez followed with an RBI single.

The Marlins rallied again in the sixth to pull within 7-5. Juan Encarnacion and Paul Lo Duca each delivered RBI singles, both just out of the reach of shortstop Rollins. Lo Duca's hit chased Lidle with runners on first and second and one out, but Ryan Madson
escaped the threat by retiring Gonzalez and Lowell.

Lidle (2-2) surrendered five runs on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. He fanned five and didn't issue a walk.

After Perez's third RBI single of the game in the home half of the seventh, Florida made it 8-6 in the eighth when Lo Duca singled off Worrell.

Game notes
Beckett and Lidle were two of four starters in the majors (Oakland's Rich Harden and Washington's John Patterson are the others) that hadn't allowed a home run this season. ... Phillies third baseman David Bell (back) and left-hander Rheal Cormier (hip) are also sidelined with injuries. ... Perez is hitting .600 (6-for-10) in day games.