ST. LOUIS - Hanley Ramirez shrugged off the boos and got back to work.
Ramirez returned to the Florida Marlins’ lineup with three hits and Anibal Sanchez threw seven impressive innings Wednesday night in a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
“I’m happy to be in the lineup,” Ramirez said. “That’s what I like to do, play every day.”
As for the negative reaction? “I’m in St. Louis, not Florida.”
Ramirez was yanked from Monday’s game for loafing and benched Tuesday after criticizing manager Fredi Gonzalez and teammates. The two-time All-Star apologized individually to the Marlins before the game.
Ramirez was booed before three of his first four at-bats. The reigning NL batting champion answered with three singles, two of them infield hits, and drove in a run.
Dan Uggla and Cameron Maybin homered in the same inning for the second straight game for Florida, which has won six of seven. The Cardinals lost for the first time in three games since Albert Pujols was moved to cleanup.
“The little distraction that we had going on, that’s in the past,” the Marlins Jorge Cantu said. “We’re grown-ups, we’re professionals.
Cardinals rookie Jaime Garcia worked five scoreless innings and has not allowed a run in 19 innings at home. He escaped trouble in all but one inning, stranding nine runners, although the outing was his shortest of the year by an inning.
“Yeah, I was a little bit off,” Garcia said. “I couldn’t find my rhythm, but I was able to make good pitches when I needed them in tough situations.
“They’ve got a really good lineup, they were working the pitch counts.”
Sanchez (3-2) allowed four hits in seven scoreless innings and didn’t give up a hit his last four innings to win his second straight start. He struck out Colby Rasmus all three times and threw a career-high 119 pitches.
“This is the most consistency that I’ve seen coming out of him,” Gonzalez said. “That’s good, that’s really good.”
Matt Holliday had two hits batting third for St. Louis, but struck out in the eighth against Clay Hensley with two on and none out to fall to .160 (8 for 50) with runners in scoring position. Pujols followed with a double-play ball.
“There was real hope there, Albert’s the tying run on deck,” manager Tony La Russa said. “Matt chased a couple and Albert got in front of one, so it’s disappointing.”
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
The Cardinals have totaled four runs on 12 hits the last two games.
Garcia and Cantu are both from Reynosa, Mexico. Cantu tipped his helmet toward the mound before getting an infield hit in the first and was 2 for 3 against the 23-year-old left-hander.
Sanchez, a career .079 hitter, walked on a full count against Blake Hawksworth (0-2) to load the bases ahead of Chris Coghlan’s sacrifice fly to open the scoring in the sixth. Ramirez added his second RBI in nine games with an infield hit, and Hawksworth surrendered Uggla’s 11th homer and Maybin’s third in the seventh.
“The ball was up, I missed spots, got hit,” Hawksworth said.
Rasmus doubled and scored on David Freese’s single off Burke Badenhop to open the ninth.
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