CINCINNATI -- Only three pitches into the game, left-hander Eric Milton hung a changeup.
Ramirez homered in his first two at-bats off Milton and drove in four runs overall Tuesday night, sparking Florida to a 12-6 victory. The Marlins stopped a three-game losing streak with their biggest offensive splurge of the season.
"You don't ever think you're going to score 12 runs," manager Joe Girardi said. "That's a lot of runs, but guys kept hitting. They got a lot of big hits."
The Marlins hit three homers off Milton (2-1) -- Dan Uggla also had a solo shot -- and had seven doubles overall among their season-high 18 hits. Seven Marlins had multihit games, including left-handed starter Jason Vargas.
They had a lot of help.
Milton (2-1) gave up 40 homers last season, the most in the majors, and hoped that an offseason conditioning program to strengthen his legs would help him keep the ball down. He gave up two homers while winning his first two starts, an encouraging sign.
Then, he went back to his old ways on Tuesday.
"Shoot, he's been throwing real well," manager Jerry Narron said. "We haven't seen anything near like this all spring. He just kept getting the ball up."
Milton gave up nine runs, eight hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings, and didn't stick around to discuss it. Instead, the Marlins had a lot of new experiences to talk about.
Ramirez had a solo homer, a two-run shot and an RBI single as part of a 3-for-6 game. His third-pitch homer to open the game was the first of his career.
"I wasn't looking for it," Ramirez said. "I was just trying to hit it hard somewhere. It happens sometimes."
For a while, it looked like all of those Marlins runs might not be enough.
Vargas matched his career high with five walks in four-plus innings and gave up three homers as well, allowing the Reds to turn a potential drubbing into a matchup of bullpens. Edwin Encarnacion's three-run homer with none out in the fourth cut it to 10-6 and ended Vargas' outing.
Josh Johnson (1-1) stopped the Reds' comeback by pitching three hitless innings, getting his first victory in his ninth big-league appearance.
"This is something I've dreamed about for a long time," said Johnson, 22, who was a fourth-round pick in 2002. "I'm really excited."
It was only the fourth win this season for the Marlins, who have the majors' youngest and least-expensive lineup. Florida opened the season with 11 rookies and a $15 million payroll, by far the smallest in the big leagues.
The Marlins came into the game with only 10 homers, third-fewest in the NL. For one night, they held their own in a ballpark that yielded the most in the majors last season. A total of 29 homers have been hit in eight games at Great American Ball Park.
Ramirez, a 22-year-old shortstop obtained from Boston last November, hit Milton's third pitch for his first career homer, a drive that barely cleared the wall in center. He added a two-run shot in the second that went 418 feet, and Uggla followed with his second homer.
Ramirez hit only six homers in 122 games for Boston's Double-A Portland team last season. The Red Sox called him up in September, and he struck out in his two at-bats.
"I think I'm swinging the bat a little better than last year," Ramirez said. "This year I'm short and quick. Last year I was horrible."
Milton kept his head down as he walked off the field following the second inning, enduring loud boos and catcalls from the crowd of 19,724. Jason LaRue was on deck to pinch-hit and Milton had grabbed his jacket and headed for the clubhouse when David Ross homered, giving Milton a second chance.
He didn't make much of it. Milton left with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth, and Miguel Olivo doubled off reliever Matt Belisle to start a four-run rally.
Juan Pierre was the last Marlin to lead off a game with a homer - last July 7 against Milwaukee. Mark Kotsay was the last to do it on the road, on May 2, 2000 at San Diego. ... Ramirez is 19-for-50 (.380) as a leadoff hitter. ... Vargas threw 110 pitches in his four-plus innings. ... CF Reggie Abercrombie snapped an 0-for-22 slump with an RBI single in the fifth. ... LaRue was activated off the 15-day DL before the game. He had surgery during spring training for torn knee cartilage.