BY CLARK SPENCER
Cody Ross called Dan Uggla’s home run in the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader “a great moment.” After all, the 3-run shot off the foul pole was pivotal in the Marlins’ 8-6 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The second game?
Not so great for the Marlins, who had to settle for a split of the twinbill when the Diamondbacks fought back for an 11-9 victory in 13 innings.
Justin Upton delivered the deciding blow, a 3-run homer off Leo Nunez that landed in the upper deck in left-center. It was the second homer of the game for Upton, who also hit one off the upper deck facing in left in the third inning.
On a day that began at 5:10 p.m. with the start of the first game, a makeup from Monday’s rainout, few fans remained to see the final out, which was recorded at 1:48 a.m.
It might have ended sooner if not for misplays and missed scoring opportunities.
With the score tied in the 11th, the Marlins had a chance to win it when they put runners at the corners with no outs. But Ross bounced into an inning-ending double play to spoil the bid.
The Diamondbacks went ahead in the 12th when Mark Reynolds hit the second of his two home runs, a solo shot off Dan Meyer.
But, thanks to a wacky fielding play by Arizona left fielder Eric Byrnes, the Marlins tied it again in the bottom of the 12th. Byrnes fielded Alejandro De Aza’s double in the corner. But as he prepared to throw back to the infield, the ball slipped backwards out of his hand and over the retaining wall in foul territory.
De Aza was awarded third on the error and ended up scoring on Chris Coghlan’s RBI single.
Then again, it was a long day for both teams, but an even longer one for the Diamondbacks after reliever Scott Schoeneweis learned that his wife, Gabrielle Schoeneweis, had been found dead by her 14-year-old daughter in their Arizona home.
Schoeneweis flew home, leaving coaches and teammates in shock.
“We were all shaken, including myself,” said Diamondbacks pitcher Doug Davis, who started the first game.
Said Arizona manager A.J. Hinch: “His world was rocked. He took it as expected – very hard.”
Hinch held a pre-game meeting to inform his club.
Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said he was informed about the situation beforehand. But Marlins players did not learn about it until after their Game 1 victory and expressed shock and sympathy.
The news tempered that win, which involved equal parts hitting and pitching.
But the biggest hit belonged to Uggla, who has been mired in a lengthy slump. His home run was the key blow in the win for the Marlins.
“I was on second,” Ross recalled of Uggla’s fifth-inning shot. “I saw it go over my head, and it looked like it took a left turn. And it looked for a second like it was going to go foul. But it banged off the foul pole.”
Uggla’s blast, which clanged off the yellow pole for a 3-run homer, fueled the win for the slumping Marlins.
“It was like a relief,” Ross recalled. ‘Our team needed it. He needed it. It was just a great moment for us.”
Uggla homered again off Rauch in the bottom of the 13th inning in the second game, but that shot was too little, too late, and lacked the impact of the earlier homer.
Chris Volstad was sharp early in the first game.
After giving up a first-inning single, he retired 11 straight and appeared to be on track for his first victory since his second start of the season – way back on April 14.
“I had my fastball down and my curveball was really good today,” Volstad said.
But Chris Snyder’s 2-run homer in the fifth tied the score.
Of the 21 losses the Marlins took into Wednesday, 11 had come in games that they led at one point or another. Volstad was determined not to make it 12 for 22, but he needed help.
Volstad got it in the bottom of the inning when Uggla homered off Jon Rauch, who had just entered in relief of Davis. Uggla had gone hitless in his seven career at bats against Rauch.
That made it 7-3.
But the Diamondbacks chipped away, cutting it to 7-4 in the sixth and adding two more runs in the seventh off Dan Meyer to narrow the gap to 7-6.
Wes Helms drove in a run with a pinch-hit single in the eighth, though, and Matt Lindstrom pitched a perfect ninth to preserve the victory for his eighth save.
Volstad finished with a career high nine strikeouts.
“I’m not really a big strikeout guy,” Volstad said. “But I had all my stuff working and everything was down in the zone, except for one pitch.”
Volstad said it was a much-needed win for the Marlins.
“Everyone contributed today,” Volstad said. “It was a team win, and we needed that team win.”