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Cruz's first career home run not quite enough

Associated Press Published: June 27, 2012
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MIAMI (AP) — Tony Cruz found a great time to hit his first major league home run, connecting in front of more than 20 friends and family members.

Cruz, from nearby Palm Beach, put St. Louis ahead with a solo drive in the seventh inning.

John Buck and pinch hitter Logan Morrison then connected for consecutive home runs in the bottom of the seventh, rallying the Miami Marlins to a 5-3 win Wednesday night and ending their eight-game losing streak against the Cardinals.

"I was just looking for a good pitch to hit and I got it," Cruz said. "Thankfully, it went out. It's a great feeling. I had a lot of family here tonight. They knew I was playing. I thank Mike (manager Matheny) for giving me the opportunity of letting me play in front of my family. Unfortunately, we didn't get the win, though."

Playing at the new Marlins Park in front of his friends and family was something he envisioned months ago.

"I did imagine playing here after making the team out of spring training," Cruz said. "I worked hard for it and I did. To play here in front of the family is great."

Buck tied it with one out when he homered off Fernando Salas. Morrison then sent a drive off Sam Freeman (0-1) that hit the top of the right-field fence, bounced off a nearby railing and dropped back into play.

"I thought it hit the back of the concrete and went out, I didn't even know it came back onto the field," Morrison said.

After being stopped at second base while the umpires reviewed the play, Morrison was allowed to finish his home-run trot. It was Morrison's first career pinch-hit home run.

"Thank God we had instant replay because if not that would have been double," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. "It also helps the umpires. I don't think it killed anybody in baseball for that idea. It helped the game."

The Cardinals had won five in a row overall. Miami won for just the second time in 10 games.

"Any time you beat the Cardinals it's a good win especially when they're playing that well," Buck said. "Hopefully it can be momentum we can build on and start our own little stretch here."

Buck has seven home runs this season, including three in his last six games. This was the second time the Marlins have hit back-to-back home runs this season — Justin Ruggiano and Morrison accomplished the feat on June 1 at Philadelphia.

Omar Infante's RBI double in the eighth gave the Marlins an insurance run.

Anibal Sanchez (4-6) ended his three-game losing streak, allowing three runs in seven innings.

Steve Cishek pitched the eighth and Heath Bell recorded his 15th save in 19 chances by pitching the ninth. He got Allen Craig to pop up with Matt Carpenter on second to end the game.

"Five consecutive wins is always a positive," Matheny said. "Guys are always going to remember that. That was a good run."

The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Beltran and an RBI double by David Freese.

The Marlins tied it at 2 in the fifth against Joe Kelly on an RBI single by Buck and a groundout by Jose Reyes.

NOTES: Cruz, a 25-year-old backup catcher, homered in his 117th career at-bat. ... Both teams will have the day off on Thursday before St. Louis hosts Pittsburgh, with RHP Adam Wainwright (6-7, 4.32 ERA) opposing RHP Kevin Correia (3-6, 4.03 ERA). The Marlins will host Philadelphia and will start LHP Mark Buehrle (6-8, 3.55 ERA) on Friday.