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Willis ties career-high with 12 K's, shuts out Phillies

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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MIAMI -- Dontrelle Willis is one of the few players in the Florida Marlins' clubhouse who knows what postseason excitement feels like.

His young teammates got a taste on Sunday.

Willis threw a three-hitter and matched a career high with 12 strikeouts in his first shutout of the season, carrying Florida to a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies that split a four-game series between NL wild-card hopefuls.

Willis (10-11) retired his final 13 batters, allowed no runners past second, tied A.J. Burnett for the Marlins' career record with eight shutouts and passed Burnett as the franchise leader in complete games with 15.

The left-hander threw 80 of his 122 pitches for strikes, walking only one.

"I've won big games. I've lost big games. I've been on both sides of the fence," said Willis, a rookie when the Marlins won the 2003 World Series. "I don't feel a lot of pressure. I've had a taste of both sides, so I just want to go out there, have fun and do my thing."

Wes Helms hit two sacrifice flies and Hanley Ramirez had three hits, a stolen base and a run for the Marlins, who jumped on Phillies starter Cole Hamels (7-8) for two first-inning runs and let Willis take over.

Ryan Howard -- whose 56 home runs lead the majors -- had two singles for the Phillies, taking advantage of Florida's infield shifts both times. Howard grounded out in the seventh, the first time in 12 plate appearances that he didn't reach base.

When Willis capped his shutout by striking out Chase Utley for the third time, Howard was on deck.

"He got ahead of us all game long," Utley said. "When he gets ahead in the count, it works in his advantage. He's tough. That's the bottom line. We caught him on a pretty good day."

The Marlins and Phillies, both 72-71, are chasing NL wild-card leader San Diego, which played later Sunday against San Francisco.

Philadelphia's loss cut the New York Mets' magic number for clinching the NL East title to four. The Mets come to Florida for a three-game series starting Monday, when Marlins rookie Anibal Sanchez will make his first start since throwing a no-hitter against Arizona last week.

"It doesn't get any easier," Florida manager Joe Girardi said.

Willis left his start against Arizona last week after six innings because of dehydration, but stayed cool the whole way on Sunday.

"He saved his best game for a real important time," Girardi said.

Hamels threw strikes on his first three pitches of the afternoon, yet things unraveled quickly from there. He needed 34 pitches just to escape the first inning, after Miguel Cabrera knocked Ramirez in with a single and Helms brought Dan Uggla home two batters later with a sacrifice fly to center.

Hamels gave up two runs, six hits and five walks in four innings for the Phillies, who play Florida six more times in the season's final 19 games.

"I guess a split is better than going 1-3," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

The Marlins stranded eight runners against Hamels -- with cleanup hitter Josh Willingham leaving the bases loaded twice. He ended the second by grounding out on a checked swing, then struck out to end another Florida chance in the fourth.

But with the way Willis was rolling, it didn't matter. The crowd of 20,308 cheered when Girardi let his pitcher bat in the eighth inning, giving him a chance to finish the game.

"I play once a week," Willis said. "I wanted to be out there."

Notes

  • Phillies reliever Arthur Rhodes will undergo an MRI on his left shoulder sometime in the next couple of days, but Manuel said Rhodes' season is probably over.
  • It was the fourth time Willis has struck out 10 or more.
  • The Marlins will wear special caps Monday, part of a series of tributes planned around baseball to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
  • Philadelphia is 18-8 on Sundays.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Dontrelle Willis throws his first shutout of the season to help Florida earn a split vs. Philly.  (AP)
Dontrelle Willis throws his first shutout of the season to help Florida earn a split vs. Philly. (AP)

Players of the Game
Florida

H. Ramirez
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 0
RBI 0
Florida

D. Willis
IP 9.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 1
K 12
 

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Philadelphia Phillies
Jimmy Rollins, SS4000010
Shane Victorino, CF3000000
Chase Utley, 2B4000031
Ryan Howard, 1B3020000
Jeff Conine, RF2000111
Pat Burrell, LF3000022
Chris Coste, C3000032
Abraham Nunez, 3B3010002
Cole Hamels, P1000010
   a- Danny Sandoval, PH1000001
    Ryan Madson, P0000000
    Aaron Fultz, P0000000
   b- Jose Hernandez, PH1000010
    Rick White, P0000000
Totals280301129 
a-grounded into a double play for Hamels in the 5th
b-struck out for Fultz in the 8th
Fielding
DP - Rollins-Utley-Howard, Utley
Philadelphia Phillies
Cole Hamels (L,-) 4622530
Ryan Madson 2.1311010
Aaron Fultz 0.2000000
Rick White 1100010
IBB - Cabrera by Cole Hamels
HBP - Ross (by Ryan Madson)
WP - Cole Hamels ()
Pitches-Strikes - Cole Hamels 90-46, Ryan Madson 29-20, Aaron Fultz 4-2, Rick White 17-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Cole Hamels 5-3, Ryan Madson 3-3
Batters Faced - Cole Hamels 22, Ryan Madson 11, Aaron Fultz 1, Rick White 4
Florida Marlins
Hanley Ramirez, SS4130101
Dan Uggla, 2B5110014
Miguel Cabrera, 3B2121200
Josh Willingham, LF3010116
Wes Helms, 1B2012000
Cody Ross, RF3000023
Alfredo Amezaga, CF4000004
Matt Treanor, C4020000
Dontrelle Willis, P2000111
Totals2931035519 
Batting
2B - Hanley Ramirez (, Hamels), Josh Willingham (, Madson), Matt Treanor (, Madson)
SF - Wes Helms 2 ()
SH - Dontrelle Willis ()
RBI - Miguel Cabrera (), Wes Helms 2 ()
SB - Hanley Ramirez (, 2nd base off White/Coste)
Team LOB - 11
Fielding
DP - Uggla-H. Ramirez-Helms, H. Ramirez-Uggla-Helms
Florida Marlins
Dontrelle Willis (W,-) 93001120
HBP - Victorino (by Dontrelle Willis)
Pitches-Strikes - Dontrelle Willis 122-80
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dontrelle Willis 8-5
Batters Faced - Dontrelle Willis 30
Game Information
Attendance - 20308
Game Time - 2:22
Temperature - 89
Umpires - Home - Laz Diaz, First Base - Rick Reed, Second Base - Tim Tschida, Third Base - Ted Barrett