Published September 29, 2013
MIAMI – The Miami Marlins were down to their final strike when the most feeble offense in the majors managed to muster a little punch.
Ed Lucas drove in the tying run with two outs in the ninth, Giancarlo Stanton had the game-winning RBI in the 10th and the Marlins earned a walkoff win Saturday by beating the Detroit Tigers 2-1.
"We haven't had one for a while," Stanton said.
Any kind of victory has been tough to come by for the Marlins, saddled with the worst record in the NL. The walkoff win was their first since July 13.
Detroit took a 1-0 lead into the ninth before the Marlins rallied against Joaquin Benoit. Lucas' big hit came a day after his wife had a baby.
"It's kind of the cherry on top of the last couple days," he said. "It's a good experience to get a hit with two outs in the ninth to help us win the ballgame."
With a runner at second in the 10th inning, Miami's Donovan Solano took a 95-mph fastball from Evan Reed off his helmet. The thunk could be heard in the upper deck as the helmet flew off, and Solano slowly to sank to one knee but then walked off the field.
After the game, Solano said he was OK.
"I felt the hit but I feel normal now," he said. "It got the helmet."
Reed (0-1) loaded the bases with a walk, and with one out Stanton hit a winning RBI single.
"I'm just glad we weren't here all night," Stanton said.
Anibal Sanchez all but clinched the AL ERA title by pitching five scoreless innings. Sanchez lowered his ERA from 2.64 to 2.57 to increase a slim lead.
"I'm happy for the ERA title," Sanchez said. "But it's not about numbers. It's about getting ready for the playoffs."
The AL Central champion Tigers learned Saturday their opponent in next week's division series will be the Athletics in Oakland beginning Friday.
"They're very good," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, "and we're very good."
With their playoff slot decided, the Tigers' next-to-last game of the regular season was mostly about statistics, and they substituted liberally during the game. Miguel Cabrera, already assured of his second consecutive AL batting title, went 2 for 4 to hike his average to .348.
He'll be held out of the starting lineup in Sunday's finale, but his first series in Miami since being traded by the Marlins in 2007 has been a box-office success. The crowd of 28,750 was the largest since the Marlins' home opener in April.
Marlins manager Mike Redmond said the big crowd contributed to his team's comeback.
"We just kept competing," he said. "The energy in the stadium was just phenomenal and I think the guys fed off that."
Sanchez allowed two hits, walked none and struck out eight to finish with 202 strikeouts. He faced the Marlins for the first time after spending the first 6½ seasons of his career with them.
"The first day I got here, a lot of memories went through my mind," he said. "I didn't try to do something special. I just went to the mound to do my job, throw strikes and get ready for the playoffs."
Miami's Nathan Eovaldi, plagued by poor run support all season, allowed one run in six innings. He finished with a 3.39 ERA.
"I'm happy with the outing," he said. "I feel like I finished on a good note this year. I made my pitches when I needed to."
Steve Cishek (4-6) pitched a hitless 10th.
Eovaldi saved a run when he caught Prince Fielder's comebacker with two on to end the fifth. Fielder lined the ball sharply into Eovaldi's glove, then flipped away his bat in disgust at his bad luck.
"If the ball had GPS on it," Fielder said, "everybody would hit .400."
NOTES: RHP Jose Fernandez was chosen the Marlins' most valuable player and rookie of the year in voting by local sports writers. ... With 11 strikeouts Saturday, Tigers pitchers have 1,415 this season, breaking the major-league record of 1,404 set by the 2003 Cubs. ... RHP Justin Verlander goes for his 14th victory Sunday against Miami's Henderson Alvarez.
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