Sledge hit his first career grand slam after Lo Duca hit a
two-run homer in his first at-bat for Florida to lead the Montreal
Expos to an 8-5 victory on Saturday night.
Lo Duca, acquired with two teammates from the Dodgers on Friday,
joined the Marlins in their dugout in the fifth inning and entered
the game in the sixth as a pinch-hitter. He homered to put Florida
ahead 5-4 and received a loud ovation from the fans. Lo Duca stayed
in the game as the Marlins catcher and finished 1-for-2, with a fly
out to center in the eighth.
"That was pretty awesome," Lo Duca said. "It's one of the
best feelings I've had as a player. I said earlier that I'm going
to play my butt off here, and we're going to win some games. This
is too talented of a team not to win."
Lo Duca endured a long day. He was up before 5 a.m. and took a
cross-country flight that featured a 90-minute delay. The plane
landed in Miami at 6:30 p.m., about the time the game was starting.
He and the other new Marlins -- outfielder Juan Encarnacion and
reliever Guillermo Mota -- hustled to get to the stadium, were in
the dugout by the fifth inning and were warmly greeted by
teammates, coaches, and manager Jack McKeon.
"I didn't want to leave L.A., but that was a warm reception
here," Lo Duca said. "It was a long day, a long flight. I wanted
to be in the (starting) lineup, but we couldn't get here on time."
In the seventh, the Expos loaded the bases against relievers
Matt Perisho and Josias Manzanillo (3-3). Sledge hit Manzanillo's
first pitch over the fence in right to give the Expos an 8-5 lead.
Sledge ended an 0-for-21 slump with a single in the fourth.
"It couldn't have come at a better time for me or the team,"
Sledge said. "I took a good swing at it. It put a big dent in the
Montreal won its fifth straight over Florida, which has lost two
straight after sweeping a four-game series from the Phillies. It's
almost a reversal of fortune for the Marlins, who are 11-1 this
year against Philadelphia.
"Maybe they can start wearing the Phillies' uniforms," Florida
starter A.J. Burnett said.
The Expos might be struggling against everyone else, but they
find themselves one win away from making it two series sweeps
within a week against the Marlins.
"We're getting good pitching," manager Frank Robinson said.
"We're getting timely hitting. We're scoring some runs. Against
the Marlins, that's something we hadn't done in the past,
especially on the road. Now we're doing it. The way they used to do
John Patterson pitched five innings for Montreal, allowing six
hits and three runs -- two earned.
Rocky Biddle (3-5) pitched one inning for the Expos. Chad
Cordero relieved in the ninth with runners on first and second and
no outs. He got Mike Lowell to ground into a double play and struck
out Miguel Cabrera for his 11th save.
Lo Duca, pinch-hitting for Matt Treanor in the sixth, homered
off Biddle. The shot came after Patterson walked Alex Gonzalez.
Burnett pitched six innings and allowed seven hits and four runs
-- three earned.
The Expos scored a run in the third on Brad Wilkerson's RBI
Montreal scored three times in the fourth to take a 4-2 lead.
Wilkerson drew a one-out walk, and Endy Chavez singled. Jose
Vidro lined a single to right that went through the legs of Miguel
Cabrera and rolled to the wall for a two-base error, allowing
Wilkerson and Chavez to score. Vidro scored on Tony Batista's
Florida pulled to 4-3 in the fifth, scoring an unearned run on
Cabrera's two-out double. It scored Castillo, who reached on
Batista's fielding error at third.
Lo Duca is the sixth All-Star catcher to play for Florida,
following Benito Santiago, Charles Johnson, Darren Daulton, Mike
Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez. ... Patterson, who missed nearly three
months because of a groin strain, hasn't won since April 10. ... Lo
Duca's homer was his first as a pinch-hitter. ... Treanor was
optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque after the game. ... Encarnacion
pinch-hit in the eighth and grounded out.