MIAMI (AP) -- Wes Helms is beginning to feel at home again in Florida.
Helms singled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth and the Florida Marlins beat the Washington Nationals 6-5 on Saturday night.Helms' one-out grounder up the middle off reliever Saul Rivera (1-1) scored Dan Uggla from second, ending the Marlins' two-game losing streak.Mike Jacobs and Jorge Cantu had three hits each for Florida. Josh Willingham had two hits, including a triple, and scored twice.Helms, acquired on April 5 from Philadelphia, came into the game with two outs in the seventh to run for Jacobs. He had only one hit in 10 at-bats."It was good to get that second hit out of the way, it was also good it was at the right time," Helms said. "It was a team effort and also myself. I'm feeling pretty good about it."Helms played with the Marlins in 2006, when he hit .329 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI in 140 games."Every day I've been here it feels more comfortable," Helms said. "I'll keep working until it gets the way it was back in '06."Uggla led off the ninth, and worked an 0-2 count into a walk. He advanced to second on Jeremy Hermida's ground out. On Helms' hit, he never hesitated rounding third and center fielder Lastings Milledge throw to home pulled catcher Johnny Estrada to the right of the plate."I thought it was going to be real close," Uggla said. "If the throw had been on line it would have been a close play."Felipe Lopez went 2-for-4 and was the only Washington hitter with more than one hit. The Nationals came in to the game hitting .223, lowest in baseball."We were making some mistakes and it's costing us," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "For us to get out of this funk we have to start playing better baseball."Behind 5-3, the Nationals tied the game with two runs in the ninth off reliever Kevin Gregg (2-0). With runners on first and second and two out, a passed ball by catcher Mike Rabelo allowed the runners to advance. Austin Kearns then poked a two-run single to right.It was Gregg's first blown save of the year.Washington starter Shawn Hill threw five-plus innings in his season debut, yielding four runs and eight hits with six strikeouts. Hill had hoped to be Washington's opening day starter, but went on the disabled list during spring training with a bothersome right forearm."Overall, not very good," Hill said. "I didn't execute my pitches when I had to."Trailing 3-1, the Marlins took their first lead of the game during a three-run sixth inning. Willingham led off with a triple and scored on Jacobs' single. Jacobs later scored on a sacrifice fly by Cody Ross. Cantu doubled, was sacrificed to third, and scored on an error by second baseman Lopez.Florida added a run in the seventh on Jacobs' RBI double to make it 5-3.Florida starter Burke Badenhop pitched three innings, allowing three runs and four hits in his second career start."Three innings is never enough," Badenhop said. "I just couldn't find the strike zone."The Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Nick Johnson's groundout. Wily Mo Pena and Estrada had RBI singles in the third to make it 3-0.Florida made it 3-1 in the third when Uggla's double to right-center scored Hanley Ramirez, who reached base safely for the 42nd straight game.
The Marlins are 5-0 in one run games. ... Renyel Pinto, who threw three scoreless innings in relief for Florida, now has 11 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to April 4 vs. Pittsburgh. ... Uggla's two hits broke a one-for-17 slump. ... The Nationals have lost 13 of their past 15 games and eight of nine on the road. ... Ryan Zimmerman has now played in 192 straight games for the Nationals dating back to the beginning of last season.