In walk-off fashion, the Marlins officially ushered in the Edwin Rodriguez era on Tuesday night.
Dan Uggla's two-out single to center field off Pedro Feliciano scored Jorge Cantu in the ninth inning, lifting the Marlins to a dramatic 7-6 win over the Mets in front of 18,373 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.
Players piled upon each other as Cantu slid headfirst into home. From there, the attention turned to Uggla, who was mauled at first base.
"Walk-offs feel a lot different. They're a lot more exciting. A lot more fun," Uggla said. "Everybody comes together at the end and celebrates. It's more exciting rather than just closing it out and high-fiving on the way back to the dugout. It's a lot of fun when everybody gets together like that."
It was Florida's third walk-off win of the season and its first since May 13, also against the Mets. For the season, the Marlins are 8-4 against New York.
On a bigger scale, the Marlins improved to 37-40 as they try to make a playoff push.
"It's always good, coming back," Cantu said. "First them. Then us. It's huge. Just a great win for us. Hopefully, we keep building on that."
Shortly before the game started, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria informed the team that Rodriguez would manage the club for the remainder of the season. With a cloud of uncertainty lifted, the team enjoyed an emotional final at-bat win to take the first two of the series against the Mets.
In line for his 17th save, Leo Nunez instead endured his fourth blown opportunity when he surrendered two runs in the ninth inning. Rod Barajas singled to open the inning and pinch-hitter Chris Carter doubled to right, putting runners on second and third with no outs. Jeff Francoeur's groundout to second scored Barajas, while pinch-runner Alex Cora moved to third on the play. With the infield in, Josh Thole slapped an RBI single to right.
Loria notified the team that Rodriguez would be the manager in the dugout about five minutes before the game.
"I was surprised because it was so close to the game," Rodriguez said. "I was trying to keep my emotions under control."
|"I don't know if it's because we're in Puerto Rico, but our team is just loosening up right now. Everybody is just happy. We're going to have fun, play hard. That's it. That's what Edwin has been saying. We've been working."|
|-- Hanley Ramirez|
An inspired effort didn't go to waste, even after the Mets rallied in the ninth.
Feliciano pitched the ninth because closer Francisco Rodriguez worked the eighth inning with his team down by two.
The left-hander opened the ninth by recording two quick outs, including striking out Hanley Ramirez looking with the count full. But Cantu doubled to right, and then he scored the game-winner on Uggla's single to center on a 1-0 count. The team mobbed Cantu at the plate, and then jumped on Uggla after his third RBI on the night.
"He's a good hitter," Barajas said of Uggla. "You leave the ball over the plate with some velocity, and he's going to hit it."
The Marlins trailed by three early, but used a six-run third inning to claim the lead. The big inning started with pitcher Nate Robertson's two-out single.
The big blasts were a grand slam by Ramirez and a two-run homer by Uggla.
In the first two games at Puerto Rico, the Marlins have been loose and relaxed.
"I don't know if it's because we're in Puerto Rico, but our team is just loosening up right now," Ramirez said. "Everybody is just happy. We're going to have fun, play hard. That's it. That's what Edwin has been saying. We've been working."
Robertson had one of his finest outings, and with a little luck, he would have had a chance to complete seven innings. Instead, the veteran lefty exited after six innings, charged with four runs on seven hits. His longest outing this season is 6 1/3 innings in a win over the Phillies on April 18.
Robertson was in line for a victory, but he had to settle for a no-decision.
"It was unfortunate that Nate didn't get the win," Uggla said. "Everyone went out and battled. Nate really pitched great. I think he probably should have given up just two tonight. Those other two runs were on us. He really picked us up and did a great job."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.