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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Miami starting pitcher Tom Koehler and pitching coach Chuck Hernandez had more on their minds than a Marlins victory.
Donovan Solano hit a three-run homer off David Price to help the Marlins beat Tampa Bay 5-4 on Wednesday night, a win in which the Rays announced the death of baseball icon Don Zimmer.
Zimmer, a most popular fixture in professional baseball for 66 years as a manager, player, coach and executive, was 83. He was still working for the Rays as a senior adviser, and the team said he died at a hospital in nearby Dunedin.
Zimmer had been in a rehabilitation center in Florida since having seven hours of heart surgery in mid-April.
"We lost a big member of the baseball community," Koehler, a Bronx native said. "I was fortunate enough to see him kind in action being that I grew up so close to Yankee Stadium. I heard about his passing after I came out of the game. Baseball lost a good man today."
Zimmer was manager Joe Torre's bench coach for four World Series titles won by the Yankees.
Hernandez, a Tampa native, recalled a story from when he was growing up.
"Going to Tampa Greyhound Track, one of his favorite places, and I was underage," Hernandez said. "He teached me how to pick dog races. We did a lot of that."
The pair later worked together with the Rays.
"He was a friend," Hernandez said. "He was a mentor. A great guy. What an impact on so many people for so long. We're going to miss him."
Casey McGehee had an RBI single for the Marlins, who won the first two games of a four-game home-and-home series in Miami, including Tuesday's 1-0 win on a bases-loaded walk.
Koehler (5-5) pitched five innings, allowing three first-inning runs on Ben Zobrist's two-run homer and a solo shot by Evan Longoria.
"Obviously not an ideal game, but games like this are sometimes a little bit more rewarding than when you go eight shutout because you realize that you really need to put everything you got out there and just try and keep the team in it," Koehler said.
Bryan Morris and Mike Dunn shut down the Rays over the next three innings, and Steve Cishek escaped a ninth-inning jam for his 13th save in 14 opportunities.
The Rays loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth, but only scored once. Cishek walked Longoria intentionally to reload the bases with two outs, then got James Loney to pop out to end the game.
"It got a little hairy there at the end," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "But fortunately, Shek kept it together and was able to pitch through it."
Price (4-5) allowed five runs — one earned — and nine hits in 7 1-3 innings.
After being limited to two runs over the last four games of an 0-8 road trip, the first three batters scored against Koehler, who walked David DeJesus before giving up home runs to Zobrist and Longoria, who has just one other extra-base hit in his past 23 games.
The Marlins rebounded with four unearned runs in the third, the first scoring when Longoria failed to hold onto the ball after fielding a grounder at third base and applying a tag on a sliding Marcell Ozuna for what should have been the final out of the inning.
The miscue left Miami with runners at first and third. Solano hit his homer to left field on the next pitch for a 5-3 lead.
NOTES: Miami RHP Carter Capps (strained right elbow) got a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, who agreed with team doctors that the reliever can resume playing catch after a month of rest. ... Marlins SS Rafael Furcal (left hamstring strain) will move his rehab assignment from Single-A Jupiter to Double-A Jacksonville on Thursday.