Guillen returns and Marlins beat Cubs 5-2
MIAMI (AP) — There was no protest and just one heckler. The only boos were directed toward the plate umpire, and by the eighth inning Ozzie Guillen's Miami Marlins had the crowd in such a happy frenzy that the roar shook the clubhouse.
Guillen made a victorious return to the dugout Tuesday night, and pitchers Josh Johnson and Heath Bell snapped out of early-season slumps to help beat the Chicago Cubs 5-2.
When the dugout emptied and Guillen joined his players on the field for the postgame celebration, there were only cheers from the crowd.
"It was great to perform and hug Ozzie again," Bell said. "We really want to win for him and try to put all that other stuff behind him."
Guillen returned from a five-game suspension imposed after his comments praising Fidel Castro caused a backlash in South Florida, especially among Cuban Americans.
Johnson allowed two runs in seven innings and Bell earned the save after several rocky outings. Streaking Hanley Ramirez broke a 2-all tie with a three-run homer in the eighth, his third.
For Guillen, the win was a relief.
"Thank God this day is over with," he said.
No demonstrations targeted at Guillen were evident, although a screaming fan in the second deck did call the Marlins manager an insulting name several times midway through the game. There were boos when Guillen ran onto the field to complain about a call in the seventh inning, but they were for the ump.
Guillen said what he heard from the crowd was supportive.
"Everything was pretty nice," he said. "It made my day a little easier. I appreciate the way people were, not just with me but with the team."
Some fans had pledged to stay away in protest. Announced attendance was 24,544, by far the smallest in five games at the Marlins' new ballpark.
The game was tied at 2 when Jose Reyes reached on an error by second baseman Darwin Barney to start the Miami eighth.
"It seems like when something like that happens, something bad is going to happen," Barney said. "It was just not a good way to start that inning. It's my fault."
Reyes took second on a passed ball and Emilio Bonifacio walked. Ramirez, who had a game-ending single in the 11th inning Sunday, followed with a homer off Rafael Dolis (0-1).
Johnson was in the clubhouse when Ramirez came through.
"This thing was shaking," he said. "I was like, 'Something good must have happened.'"
Ramirez has gone 8 for 12 with seven RBIs in the past three games to hike his average from .133 to .286.
"That's what I'm here for — to drive in runs," Ramirez said.
With the retractable roof open on a 76-degree night, both teams struggled for runs much of the way. The Marlins went 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position, while the Cubs grounded into four double plays.
Johnson had a solid outing for the first time in three starts, lowering his ERA from 8.38 to 5.94.
"Two things very nice happened today besides the win," Guillen said. "One was seeing J.J. throw the ball the way he did. He needs that, and so do we. And the second thing was the opportunity for Heath Bell to go out there and do what he does best."
Bell, an All-Star closer acquired during the Marlins' offseason spending binge, pitched a perfect ninth for his first save in three chances.
"It was like a huge weight off my back, plain and simple, I'll be honest," Bell said. "I'm trying to get my teammates to trust me, and this is a good start."
Steve Cishek (1-0) pitched a hitless eighth and has yet to allow run in eight games.
The Cubs' Ryan Dempster remained winless in 12 starts since Aug. 16 even though he lowered his ERA to 1.33. He pitched six innings and gave up two runs, both unearned because of his errant throw to first on a grounder.
"I wish I could have thrown the ball better to first base," he said. "The results would have probably been different."
The Cubs, who fell to 3-8, have scored a total of four runs in Dempster's three starts.
NOTES: The Cubs' Marlon Byrd went 0 for 3 and is off to a 2-for-34 start (.059). ... Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton was dropped to sixth in the order and remains without a homer in 38 at-bats. ... The Cubs won't face former teammate Carlos Zambrano in the series. He's slated to start Friday at Washington. ... Marlins Park is the 119th ballpark in which the Cubs have played.