BALTIMORE (AP) -- Dontrelle Willis came within one out of his third complete game, a shortcoming that did nothing to deter the
satisfaction he derived from helping the Florida Marlins tie a franchise mark with their ninth straight victory.
Willis scattered 12 hits to remain unbeaten in June and Florida used three home runs to beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 on Tuesday night.
Willis (4-6) struck out four and walked none to earn his 50th career win, breaking a tie with A.J. Burnett for the most in Marlins history.
"It's a blessing," he said. "I never fathomed being in a situation like this. I truly have great teammates playing hard behind me, and it shows."
Willis stressed that Florida's winning streak was far more important than his ascension to the top of the franchise victory list.
"Winning is fun. It's fun because you all said we [stunk]," he said. "It's fun to go out there and make you guys write something different. ... Us playing this well right now, it's definitely a beautiful thing."
Willis was pulled with two outs and two on in the ninth after throwing his 116th pitch.
"We just got to a pitch count that I wasn't comfortable with, and we have a closer that's done a great job," Marlins manager Joe Girardi said. "I know [Willis] wanted to finish that game, but I worry about his next start, the start after that and his next start. It's not about this one game, it's about the whole season."
Joe Borowski got the final out for his 12th save.
Even though a two-run homer in the seventh by Corey Patterson
ruined Willis' shutout bid, the left-hander improved to 3-0 in his last four starts. He has a 2.56 ERA over that span.
Florida, which began play in 1993, twice before won nine straight -- in 1996 and 2004. During their current run, the Marlins have outscored the opposition 43-18.
Florida is 19-6 since May 21, the best 25-game run in Marlins history.
Dan Uggla, Matt Treanor and Alfredo Amezaga homered off Daniel Cabrera (4-4), who had yielded only two home runs in his previous 11 starts. The three homers allowed by the right-hander were a career high.
Uggla's 13th homer put Florida up 1-0 in the first inning. Treanor hit his first major-league home run in the fourth, a solo shot that made it 4-0, and Amezaga added a two-run drive in the sixth on an 0-2 pitch for a 6-0 lead.
Amezaga's homer chased Cabrera, who needed 117 pitches to get through 5 2/3 innings.
"He ran into a fastball-hitting club. He got behind enough times so they could sit on it a little bit better," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "He didn't have his breaking ball tonight, and he really needed it."
Baltimore third baseman Melvin Mora left in the sixth with a bruised left knee after being struck by a pitch from Willis. X-rays were negative.
"It was scary, but I'm feeling better," said Mora, who did not dismiss the possibility of playing on Wednesday.
At least he won't have to face Willis.
"He doesn't just throws the ball to home plate, he locates it," Mora said. "He was able to keep us off-balance."
Cabrera struck out nine but allowed six runs, eight hits and two walks.
Up 1-0 in the second, Florida got runners to second and third with two outs before Treanor looked at a third strike. Miguel Tejada led off the bottom half with a double but did not advance.
Treanor's homer in the fourth ended a run of 266 at-bats without a home run, then the longest active streak in the majors.
"Personally, I'd say it was a relief because I'd given up trying to drive balls out of the ballpark," he said. "There's been a lot more on my mind offensively -- first time up today, I
left two guys on base. I was kind of kicking myself over that."
Florida DH Joe Borchard went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. ... Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez went 0-for-4 and is hitless in his last 20 at-bats. ... Uggla left with stiffness in his leg. He's