Uggla sparks Marlins; Gregg holds off Diamondbacks

MIAMI (AP) -- Maybe these first-place Florida Marlins are no fluke.

Dan Uggla hit his 14th home run and Kevin Gregg escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning to help the Marlins take the opening game in a series between division leaders, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-2 on Tuesday night.

The game was the Marlins' first against an opponent that has a winning record since May 1, and the widespread assumption is the team with baseball's smallest payroll will fold as the schedule becomes more difficult.

But NL East leader Florida did lots of little things right against Arizona, which began the week with the best record in the majors. Jeremy Hermida and Luis Gonzalez had two-out RBIs, the worst defense in the majors was errorless and Gregg came to the rescue to protect a one-run lead.

"We'll just keep plugging away," Gregg said. "Everybody is looking at you like, 'These guys aren't any good.' But we're at the top of the division, where everybody wants to be."

After Renyel Pinto walked the bases loaded with one out in the eighth, Gregg entered the game and struck out Justin Upton and Eric Byrnes, the latter on a 3-2 fastball.

"We didn't hit when we needed to," Byrnes said. "We've just got to hit better in those situations."

Gregg followed with a hitless ninth for his eighth save in nine chances. Among those congratulating him in the clubhouse was owner Jeffrey Loria.

"Masterful. Masterful," Loria said.

"He should get at least two saves there, maybe three," manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

"That's why I have the job I have -- to be in that situation, to make those pitches under that kind of pressure," Gregg said. "It takes an intense focus to get through. But it's fun and I enjoy it."

The NL West-leading Diamondbacks stranded five runners in scoring position, and Byrnes was tagged out trying to score from third on a grounder in the fifth.

"We just couldn't take advantage of some opportunities," manager Bob Melvin said. "We just left some guys out there. That was the difference."

Micah Owings (5-2) had a career-high 10 strikeouts but allowed three runs in seven innings.

While the Marlins have been in first place for seven weeks, South Florida has yet to take notice. Attendance was 10,696.

"They have a good club, there's no doubt about it," Melvin said. "They deserve to be where they are right now."

Florida won even though Hanley Ramirez's slump persisted -- he went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Ramirez, who signed a $70 million, six-year contract Saturday with Florida, is 1-for-15 with 10 strikeouts in the past four games.

Uggla went 2-for-3 with a double and a homer, stole a base and scored twice. He led off the sixth with his sixth homer in 10 games to put the Marlins ahead 3-1, making him the first Florida player to hit 10 home runs in a month since Cliff Floyd in April 2002.

Chris Snyder hit his fourth homer for Arizona in the seventh.

Mark Hendrickson (6-2) needed 97 pitches to get through five innings but left with a 2-1 lead. The last batter he faced was Chris Young, who struck out looking with runners at first and third to end the fifth.

Matt Lindstrom's fastball registered 100 mph on the scoreboard radar gun in the sixth. He struck out Upton looking with an 85-mph curve on the next pitch to end the inning and strand a runner at second.

Hendrickson retired the first nine batters before Young doubled to start the fourth. After he was caught stealing, Augie Ojeda walked, took third on a single by Orlando Hudson and scored on Conor Jackson's sacrifice fly.

Florida regained the lead for good in the fourth. Uggla walked, stole second and came home on a two-out single by Gonzalez.

Game notes
Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew was given the night off. ... Gonzalez on Wednesday's matchup against right-hander Brandon Webb, who has won his first nine starts: "He has given up runs. We'll show up." ... Ramirez began the week with a slugging percentage of .591 when leading off and .377 when batting third.