HOUSTON -- Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said what was most encouraging about the way the team's 8-1 road trip ended Wednesday was seeing two of the team's most important pitchers -- Josh Johnson and Heath Bell -- regain their form.
"I think the best news I saw was Bell and JJ throwing the ball outstanding. I mean that to me, that's very important. I want those guys to go out there and have some success, help this ballclub win some games. I know how much it means to them too. JJ threw the ball great and Bell threw the ball great when we needed him to."
Could Bell's scoreless inning of relief in the 10th get him back into the closer's role immediately? Maybe.
"Now, it's up to him to see how he's going to handle it," Guillen responded when asked if Bell's scoreless inning of relief gave him confidence to put him back in the closer's role.
"I want to see him throw the ball the way he did today with confidence. When you get [the game] on the line, he has to have our back and we have to have his back. I believe we're a better ballclub with him as the closer."
Bell's response: "Ozzie is going to put me in there to try and help the team win and I'll get up to pitch when Ozzie calls down for me. I want my job back. That's all I'll say. I want my job back. It's up to Ozzie when I get my job back. Plain and simple."
JOHNSON HAPPY WITH EFFORT: Johnson didn't get the win Wednesday -- he had a chance to pick up his first 'W' since April 19th of last year. But he didn't seem to care the Marlins blew their eighth save opportunity of the year (now tied with Colorado for the most in baseball).
"We got the win, that's all that matters. Unbelievable road trip -- eight out of nine games," Johnson said. "I feel like we've been on the road for the last month now and we get to go back home for five days. Maybe we'll start something there and keep winning ball games."
Johnson said he felt great using all of his pitches and made simply one mistake -- the solo home run by Chris Johnson in he second inning.
"Threw my fastball and located it. That's my game. That's how I get outs -- with that," Johnson said. "When I don't do that, that's how I get in trouble.
"Three punch outs with my curveball. That's probably the first time I've ever had three strikeouts with my curveball. So, something to build with that. Threw some good changeups, some good sliders. It was a good day."
Johnson, whose ERA is now 5.87, said he felt like he learned something watching Carlos Zambrano on Monday. Who would have ever imagined that?
"Watching Big Z helped," Johnson said. Every time he made a bad pitch, he just calmed down and relaxed.
"You can tell by the hitter's reactions I'm throwing the ball good. Saint was saying 'You've just got to trust it, throw it out there and trust it. I've been doing bullpens and feel good. I go out to games and then I'm like 'I have to get after it, get amped up.' Today, I made sure I stayed calm and relaxed and enjoyed myself out there."
> Second baseman Omar Infante, charged with two costly errors in Tuesday's loss, was happy to deliver his second game-winning hit in less than a week and make up for his mistake.
"Now I feel better because I made a big hit to help the team," said Infante, who entered the game as a pinch hitter in the 11th and struckout looking. "I just wanted to make contact in that situation. I didn't want to strike out again. It's not easy pinch hitting. The second at-bat I felt more comfortable."
> Guillen didn't think the antics of Astros reliever Wilton Lopez was very cute. Lopez plunked Hanley Ramirez with a fastball on his left arm then turned to the Marlins bench on the way to his own dugout and flashed the team's rally sign 'Lo Viste.'
"Very immature, that's all I can say. Very immature," Guillen said. "He's lucky I wasn't Hanley. I would have chased his ass all the way to Puerto Rico."