Marlins' Willis becomes NL's first 12-game winner
ATLANTA (Ticker) -- After
' scoreless streak,
extended one of his own.
Cabrera homered twice and posted a career-high six RBI and Willis tossed a five-hitter to become the National League's first 12-game winner as the Marlins salvaged the finale of their three-game series with the
with an 8-0 victory.
Florida had been outscored, 13-0, in the first two games of the set, managing a meager .145 average. However, the Marlins returned the favor in this one behind two of their bright young stars.
Cabrera ended Florida's scoreless streak at 24 innings with a solo homer against Braves starter
with two outs in the opening inning. The 22-year-old added a two-run blast in the sixth, making it 3-0 while recording his fourth career multi-homer game.
"(The first homer's) big," Cabrera said. "We didn't score for a while. It meant we needed to score more runs. I scored the first run and knew that."
"I think we were much more comfortable after (Cabrera) hit the second one," Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. "Knowing you have Dontrelle out there, you know he's going to pretty much stem the tide."
Cabrera also delivered a two-run single in the seventh inning and a run-scoring base hit in the eighth to best his prior career high of four RBI.
"I don't care about my career high," Cabrera said. "I care about the win. The numbers don't mean nothing. The win means everything."
Cabrera's offensive assault was more than enough for Willis (12-2), who allowed just four singles and a triple in tossing his league-leading third shutout. The 23-year-old lefthander struck out seven, threw 78 of 113 pitches for strikes and retired 15 consecutive batters at one point in extending his scoreless streak to 19 innings.
"The big key was being consistent," said Willis, who threw a first-pitch strike to 24 of the 31 batters he faced. "These guys, it seems like if you go 2-0 with those guys, everybody's a power guy. I wanted to pitch in the zone and threw a lot of strikes."
"He's tough," Braves manager
admitted. "He probably deserves to start the All-Star Game. He's a dominant pitcher in the National League."
Prior to this one, Willis had not had much success against the Braves, going 1-2 with a 5.50 ERA in six career starts against them.
"He pitched pretty good," said Braves center fielder
, who went hitless in three at-bats. "He totally changed his game plan. Today, he used his changeup and his cutter. He did a good job, kept his stuff down and he won."
"I didn't want (Atlanta) to come out there and swing the bats early," Willis said. "The Braves are tough at Turner Field."
singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 13 games while
Paul Lo Duca
added two hits apiece for the Marlins, who won for just the second time in six games.
However, the night was all about Cabrera and Willis, who played together in the minor leagues prior to joining the Marlins in 2003.
"We played in high-single A," Cabrera said. "When he pitches good, I'm doing good. Everytime he goes out there, I'm having a good game."
Sosa (3-1) yielded three runs, four hits and two walks in six innings as Atlanta lost for just the second time in seven contests.