Willis pitched a five-hitter to become the NL's first 12-game
winner, and Cabrera snapped Florida out of an offensive slump by
hitting two homers and driving in a career-high six runs, leading
the Marlins over the Atlanta Braves 8-0 Thursday night.
The Marlins had not scored in 24 consecutive innings before
Cabrera launched his career-best night with a first-inning homer.
Willis stretched his streak of consecutive shutout innings to 19
in his eighth career complete game and fourth this season, winning
the endorsement of Braves manager Bobby Cox to be the NL's starting
pitcher in the All-Star game.
"He's tough," Cox said. "He deserves to start the All-Star
game, to be honest with you. He's the dominant pitcher in the
National League right now."
Willis (12-2) walked one and struck out seven in his third
shutout of the season and fifth of his career.
Willis' only mistake came on the bases. His headfirst dive into
first on a bunt single upset some teammates.
"I was hoping he wouldn't get hurt," Florida's Lenny Harris
said. "We'll get him on the plane. We didn't want to bother him
because he was pitching so good."
Said Willis: "They were kind of upset with me. I could jam a
shoulder or jam a finger, but that's just how I play."
The Marlins were outscored 13-0 in the first two games of the
series but used Willis' dominant outing to salvage the finale.
"He gives us a burst of energy, no doubt about it," Marlins
manager Jack McKeon said.
McKeon said he couldn't be upset with Willis' slide in the
"The guy likes to play the game," McKeon said. "Why take that
away from him?"
Cabrera was 4-for-5 with the two homers, lifting his batting
average to .341. He has 14 homers and 51 RBI but was angry that
Florida won only one game in the series.
"I'm still [upset]," Cabrera said. "We needed to win more
than one game. One game is nothing.
"I don't care about career highs. Numbers don't mean anything.
Wins mean everything."
Back-to-back shutout losses in the first two games of the series
stretched the Marlins' overall streak of scoreless innings to 24,
going back to the third inning of Sunday's win at the Los Angeles
Cabrera put a quick end to the drought when his first homer gave
Florida a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
Jorge Sosa (3-1) gave up only four hits and three runs in six
innings, but two of the hits were Cabrera's 13th and 14th homers.
Cabrera added a two-run single off Braves reliever Adam Bernero
in the Marlins' four-run seventh inning, and an RBI single off Dan
Kolb in the ninth.
Willis retired 17 straight batters before Andy Marte hit a
triple past a diving Cabrera in left field with two outs in the
eighth. Willis ended the Braves' only scoring threat when
pinch-hitter Wilson Betemit grounded out to first base. The
left-hander threw 113 pitches.
"We found out what everybody's talking about," Braves right
fielder Brian Jordan said.
Sosa gave up only one other hit after the first, a fifth-inning
single by Paul Lo Duca, before the sixth inning. After Luis
Castillo drew a one-out walk, Cabrera drove an 0-1 pitch an
estimated 394 feet into the left-field seats for a 3-0 lead.
Cabrera's second homer of the game came on Sosa's 75th pitch. In
Sosa's first two starts, he was pulled after throwing 74 and 75
The seventh-inning bunt single by Willis loaded the bases. Juan
Pierre drove in one run with a fly ball caught by a diving Jordan
in right field. Cabrera added a two-run single and scored on Carlos
Delgado's double to center for a 7-0 lead.
Cabrera has four multihomer games. His last two-homer game
was April 8 against Washington. ... With a seventh-inning single,
Alex Gonzalez stretched his hitting streak to 13 games, matching
his career high. ... Before this series, the Marlins had not been
shut out in consecutive games since Aug. 23-25, 2000 -- at San
Francisco and against Cincinnati. Florida had not been shut out on
consecutive days since April 10-11, 1999, at San Diego and at Los