MIAMI -- Even Ryan Freel is playing a part in the Cincinnati Reds' surprising surge.
The struggling outfielder hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning Thursday night, and the Reds won their fourth straight game, rallying past the Florida Marlins 7-5.
Cincinnati blew an early 3-0 lead and trailed 5-3 before scoring four runs in the eighth against Armando Benitez (2-5). Freel capped the comeback with his third home run, giving him 15 RBI this season.
"It's obvious - my numbers show I've just been horrendous this year," said Freel, who came into the game hitting .238. "I actually saw the ball today, as opposed to the last three months. I had been closing my eyes and swinging. ... Hopefully we can put some more of those together."
Cincinnati, sixth and last in the NL Central for most of the season, climbed ahead of Pittsburgh and Houston with the win.
"What do we need to go to first?" interim manager Pete Mackanin asked. "We need to keep winning."
The Reds are still 13½ games behind division leader Milwaukee, but they are 10-4 since Mackanin became interim manager, replacing Jerry Narron.
"It just seems coming to the ballpark is a lot different than it was," said David Weathers, who pitched for the fourth straight day and earned his 19th save in 23 chances.
"We were so tense about everything. Pete has a laid back personality. He's a funny guy. It has kind of filtered into us, and we come in here expecting to win."
The Reds have two four-game winning streaks this month, their longest of the season.
"I've got to take notes," Mackanin said. "There are so many good things going on right now that it's hard to remember everything."
The Reds even had a little help -- they scored three runs in the first after right fielder Jeremy Hermida appeared to lose a routine two-out fly in the sun.
Matt Belisle was unable to protect the lead. Winless since May 29, he allowed nine hits and five runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Cincinnati loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh but failed to score, then mounted another rally in the eighth. Javier Valentin led off with a double, took third on Edwin Encarnacion's single and came home on a single by Norris Hopper.
A sacrifice bunt advanced the runners before Freel homered over the scoreboard. He came into the game 3-for-29 since the All-Star break and went 3-for-4.
"It's just a matter of time before he gets on track," Mackanin said. "He's that spark plug you can always use."
Todd Coffey (2-1) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings, and Weathers followed with a hitless ninth.
Miguel Olivo and Josh Willingham homered for the Marlins, who fell to 20-29 at home. One consolation: Few saw their latest loss. The crowd of 10,344 was the smallest at home this season for Florida, last in the NL in attendance.
The game started well for the Reds, coming off a three-game sweep of Atlanta, including a 15-inning victory Wednesday. With two outs and two on in the first, Adam Dunn's fly dropped in front of Hermida and bounced past him to the wall.
"The ball seemed like it had a lot of topspin, and he had the sun right in his face," Marlins pitcher Sergio Mitre said. "It's not his fault. You can't do anything about it."
Dunn was credited with a two-run double, and he scored on a double by Valentin.
Mitre shook off the misplay, shut out Cincinnati over the next five innings and left with a 5-3 lead. But he remained only 4-4 this season despite a 2.82 ERA in 17 starts.
"It seems like something bad happens when he pitches," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He just doesn't get the win."
A slumping Dan Uggla, back in the lineup after sitting out a game for the first time this season, hit a two-out double in the fourth to put Florida ahead.
Willingham hit his 15th homer in the fifth, but that was the Marlins' final run. Jared Burton, Jon Coutlangus, Coffey and Weathers shut them out over the final 4 2/3 innings.
"We've been playing some really good ball," Freel said. "Shaking up things with Pete coming in here, it looks like it has made a difference."
The ball bounced the Marlins' way in the fifth on a grounder by Cincinnati's Scott Hatteberg. His chopper deflected off the glove of 1B Mike Jacobs high into the air, and Mitre caught it as he crossed first base ahead of the batter for a bizarre 3-1 putout. ... Freel made a diving catch in center to rob Miguel Cabrera of a hit in the sixth.