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Stanton's slam helps Marlins top Rays 7-4

MIAMI (AP) — Mike Stanton hit a grand slam for his first major league home run, part of a disastrous five-run first inning for Tampa Bay's Matt Garza, and the Florida Marlins went on to beat the Rays 7-4 Friday night.

Ronny Paulino had three hits and Chris Coghlan doubled twice for the Marlins.

Garza (7-5) had the shortest outing of his career, lasting just 1 1-3 innings and giving up seven runs on seven hits while walking three. His ERA climbed from 3.50 to 4.16, and he needed 49 pitches — the second-highest total by anyone in a single inning this season — just to record his first three outs.

By comparison, Washington star rookie Stephen Strasburg threw 47 pitches in his first 4 1-3 innings Friday against the White Sox.

Ben Zobrist hit a two-run double in the first for Tampa Bay, which has dropped three straight and six of its last eight, including three of four against the Marlins.

Garza gave up a double to Coghlan to start the game and walked three of the next five batters, stopping to smooth mound dirt with his foot several times.

Still, he was one strike away from getting out of the first having yielded just one run, before Stanton — who fouled off the first 3-2 pitch he saw — sent a fastball over the wall in left-center, the first hit at home for the highly touted 20-year-old rookie and one that merited a curtain call from the crowd of 17,310.

Nate Robertson (5-5) gave up five hits and three runs, two earned, in six innings for Florida, striking out six and walking one. Leo Nunez worked a perfect ninth for his 14th save in 17 opportunities.

The Marlins batted for 30 minutes in the first. The only pitcher so far this season to throw more pitches in an inning, according to STATS LLC, was Pittsburgh's Paul Maholm, who needed 54 to escape the third inning against St. Louis last month.

Whatever ailed Garza in the first didn't get fixed in the second inning, either.

Coghlan doubled again to lead off the second, scored two batters later on Hanley Ramirez's single. Dan Uggla's RBI single later in the inning brought Gaby Sanchez home for a 7-2 lead, and Garza — who had gone at least five innings in all 13 of his starts this season — saw his night finally end.

Scott Strickland got two outs in the seventh for the Marlins, allowing a run on two hits in his first major-league appearance since Sept. 28, 2005. He'd been in the minors ever since, and considered retiring earlier this season for a full-time job repossessing cars for a family member's firm in Texas.

Andy Sonnanstine, Dan Wheeler and Lance Cormier combined for 6 2-3 innings of shutout relief for Tampa Bay, giving up a combined four hits while striking out seven and walking none.

NOTES: Garza's shortest start had been 2 1-3 innings Aug. 20, 2007 against Seattle. He threw two innings of relief against the Yankees on July 2, 2007. ... The Rays saw a chance to get perhaps within two runs evaporate in the seventh, when B.J. Upton — who had just gotten to second on his 21st steal of the year — was caught trying to swipe third. ... Robertson hit into an unusual 5-6-4 double play while trying to bunt in the fifth.