On mound, at plate, Big Z lifts Miami into tie for first

On mound, at plate, Big Z lifts Miami into tie for first

On mound, at plate, Big Z lifts Miami into tie for first
PHILADELPHIA -- You can argue that Carlos Zambrano turned in a complete game on Sunday afternoon, even though he didn't pitch nine innings at Citizens Bank Park.

The Marlins right-hander delivered in so many ways. He allowed one run in 7 2/3 innings and struck out seven, and at the plate, he crushed a home run and added a bunt single, with two runs scored.

Zambrano's all-around performance punctuated the Marlins' 5-1 win over the Phillies, giving the team the series victory.

"I felt good," said Zambrano, who actually pitched through a mild flu. "As a pitcher in the National League, you have to be able to run, bunt, hit. I take that seriously. I take pride in what I do. Every time I'm on the mound, I feel like a pitcher. But when I'm in the box, I feel like a hitter. I take everything seriously."

With the Nationals' loss to the Braves on Sunday, Miami moved into a tie for first place in the National League East with Washington. The Marlins have not lost a series since late April to the D-backs, winning eight straight three-game series.

Hanley Ramirez added a home run, while Jose Reyes delivered a two-run double that enabled Miami to take two of three against the Phillies. Reyes has hit safely in 14 straight games.

"We need to keep it going," Reyes said. "We're focused on winning the division, but it's too early. We don't want to get too crazy and too high. We just need to continue to play the way we've been playing. We're playing very good baseball. We don't want to be too high. We want to stay at the same level and keep playing."

Heath Bell came in relief of Steve Cishek in the ninth, inheriting two runners with one out. He logged the final two outs for his 12th save in 16 chances.

Joe Blanton gave up five runs on nine hits in six-plus innings in the loss for Philadelphia.

Miami broke open a 5-0 lead, scoring three times in the seventh inning. John Buck walked to get the inning rolling, and Chris Coghlan slapped a single to left. Zambrano dropped a bunt and legged it out for an infield single.

Reyes drove a two-run double into the gap in right-center, and Blanton's afternoon was over. Reliever Chad Qualls was charged with a wild pitch, which scored Zambrano for the final run of the inning.

The Marlins improved to 21-9 in games they hit a home run. A couple of solo shots gave them the early advantage.

Zambrano blasted a homer to left-center with one out in the third inning. It was the 24th homer of Zambrano's career, with his last coming on Aug. 6, 2011, against the Reds.

"He came in, and I said, 'You were put on this earth to play baseball, weren't you?'" Buck said. "Just see him. He's having fun. It's a big reason why he's probably playing so well. He's relaxing, having fun and playing baseball."

Off the bat, Zambrano knew he got it good.

"Everything is a gift from God," Zambrano said. "The Lord give me the ability to hit. I'm not a small man. I'm a big man. If I hit the ball good, it will travel far. That's the ability that comes from God."

Blanton noted the pitch wasn't a strike, but it went out in a hurry.

"Just a first-pitch fastball," Blanton said. "I mean, it wasn't even a strike. It was a ball up. And he hit it."

Before the no-doubt blast, no Marlins pitcher had hit a home run since Josh Johnson on Aug. 4, 2009, at Washington.

Miami made it 2-0 in the fourth on Ramirez's leadoff homer to left. The shot, on an 0-2 pitch, just cleared the wall in left over a leaping Juan Pierre.

Ramirez hit two home runs on Saturday, and he now has 11 in 54 games. A year ago, when he missed substantial time due to injury, he finished with 10 home runs in 92 games.

Everything was working for Zambrano. His sinker and cutter limited the Phillies to four hits, with three coming from former Marlin Pierre. The lone run the Phillies scored came in the eighth, when Pierre delivered an RBI single.

"He continues to throw the ball very well," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "Today was very effective, throwing a lot of strikes. His breaking ball was outstanding. At the plate, this kid won the Silver Slugger a couple of times for a reason. This guy is a good hitter. In the meanwhile, he threw the ball very good."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.