MIAMI (AP) -- After spending eight years in the minor leagues, Joe Dillon's first week in the majors could not have been more memorable.
Called up from Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday, pinch-hitter Dillon hit his first major-league home run to lead the Florida Marlins to a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Saturday.Dillon hit Tampa Bay a 1-2 pitch from reliever Jesus Colome
(1-2) over the left field wall to break a 3-all tie."It's a great feeling. You always want to win games but obviously they mean a lot more up here than in the minor leagues," Dillon said."I hit it pretty good, it got in a little bit on me but it was either off the wall or out. When I went around first and heard the roar of the crowd go nuts, I knew it was a home run," he said.Dillon didn't recall homering as a pinch-hitter at any level of pro ball in his career. His teammates rewarded him with a shaving cream pie in the face during a postgame television interview."You have to be excited and happy for him," center fielder Juan Pierre said. "Everybody remembers their first home run. You know he'll remember that for the rest of his life."Marlins manager Jack McKeon said the game situation called for Dillon, who has 120 home runs in the minors."I had choices to go with but I wanted a guy who could give me the power," McKeon said. "It was nice to see Joe Dillon deliver in such a crucial situation."Matt Perisho (2-0) got two outs in the eighth for the victory, and Todd Jones pitched the ninth for his fifth save.Tampa Bay had runners on second and third with one out in the eighth, but Perisho entered and retired Aubrey Huff on a popout to the shortstop and Travis Lee on a deep fly to center field."With Lee I hung a slider, luckily we had enough ballpark to hold it," Perisho said. "We were lucky. I'll take it."The Devil Rays haven't been as fortunate. Saturday's loss dropped Tampa Bay to 2-7 on its current 10-game road trip. Five of the losses have come by one run and the other two by two runs.Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella declined to talk to the media."It seems like every year we're losing by one or two runs," Tampa Bay catcher Toby Hall said. "It's miserable to tell you the truth."The Marlins erased a 3-0 deficit against Devil Rays starter Mark Hendrickson in the sixth on homers by Juan Encarnacion, a two-run shot, and Damion Easley."The team got some energy after we tied the game," Encarnacion said. "It gave us some motivation."Hendrickson was removed after the sixth having allowed three runs and six hits. He walked three and struck out two."We have to learn how to win games," Hendrickson said. "As a young team, you have to learn what it takes. You see good teams find ways to win games that maybe they aren't supposed to win."The Devil Rays scored twice in the first off A.J. Burnett on
Huff's RBI single and Jorge Cantu's run-scoring groundout.Hall, who went 3-for-3, homered to lead off the second, increasing the Devil Rays' lead to 3-0.Burnett overcame his early struggles, allowing just three hits and three runs."I've had no rhythm in the first couple of innings lately and that has to change," Burnett said. "The starter sets the tone and I didn't accomplish that today."
Dillon's home run was the first by a Marlins pinch-hitter since Lenny Harris hit one against Philadelphia on Sept. 23 last season. ... The Marlins lead the all-time interleague series 24-15. ... Carlos Delgado extended his hitting streak to 11, while Cabrera has hit safely in 10 straight games after a first inning single. ... Hall has four home runs in his last 15 games after going homerless in his previous 54 dating to Aug. 9 of last season. ... Left-handed batters are hitting .159 against Hendrickson after Pierre and Delgado went a combined 0-for-5 against the Tampa Bay starter.