MIAMI - Baserunners, beware. When you stop at third base against the Florida Marlins, don’t let Mike Lowell out of your sight.
For the second time in less than a year, Lowell made a fool of an unsuspecting runner with the hidden-ball trick.
Just when Arizona’s Luis Terrero thought it was safe to take a lead, Lowell caught him wandering off the bag in the eighth inning Wednesday night. The sleight of hand halted a Diamondbacks rally, and the Marlins went on to win in a rout, 10-5.
Miguel Cabrera hit his 26th homer and Juan Pierre scored three runs for Florida, which won its second in a row after being swept in a doubleheader in Colorado on Monday.
With the Diamondbacks trailing 6-5, Terrero hit a leadoff single against Marlins closer Todd Jones. Terrero advanced on Quinton McCracken’s sacrifice and went to third on Tony Clark’s pinch-hit single to left.
Lowell, who caught Montreal’s Brian Schneider with a hidden-ball play last Sept. 15, quickly sized up another opportunity to pull the rare trick after catching Cabrera’s throw to the infield.
“I looked to first to see if Tony Clark was going to advance, then I looked at third base,” Lowell said. “Both guys had their heads down so I just held onto the ball to see what would happen.”
Despite the absence of any signal from Lowell, Jones — who said he hadn’t seen the play since 1986, when he was in high school — understood what his teammate was up to.
“When I didn’t get the ball, I figured it out by the process of elimination,” Jones said. “I just walked around and tried to stall. I was running out of things to do. I was going to touch my toes.”
Just as Jones was getting ready to give up the charade, Terrero took his lead off third base. Lowell sauntered over and tagged the stunned baserunner, who was immediately called out by third base umpire Ed Rapuano, drawing a roar of approval from the crowd of 20,443.
“It was the coolest thing I’ve done on the field in a while,” said Jones, who singled in the bottom half of the inning for his fourth career hit — his first since July 27, 1995.
“It was just the culmination of a poorly played game by us, our worst game of the year,” Melvin said. “We didn’t deserve to win that game.”
Rookie Jason Vargas (3-0) pitched five solid innings to win his second straight start. He allowed one run on four hits while striking out five.
“I wish I could have been stronger and given them seven innings but they took me deep in a lot of counts and made me throw a lot of pitches,” Vargas said. “They fouled a lot of pitches off and didn’t give me a lot of air to breathe. They were battling, I was battling and I was fortunate to come out on top.”
Lowell was the last major leaguer to pull the play when he used it last season to escape a bases-loaded, two-out jam during the first game of a doubleheader against Montreal. After Schneider stopped at third on a single, Lowell faked a throw to the mound. When the Expos’ runner left the bag, Lowell tagged Schneider for the final out.
“I’ve seen Cookie Rojas pull it a couple of times, and Mike a couple of times, those are the only ones I know of in the big leagues,” Marlins manager Jack McKeon said.
ATLANTA (AP) - Matt Harvey pitched six hitless innings, John Buck homered and the New York Mets held off another Atlanta comeback, beating the Braves 4-3 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.
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