Gaby's walk-off seals Miami's first home win
By David Villavicencio / Special to MLB.com | 4/14/2012 12:10 AM ET
HOU@MIA: Marlins walk off on Gaby's double to left
MIAMI -- A Miami native gave his hometown team their first win in their new ballpark.
Gaby Sanchez smashed a double off the left field wall in the 11th inning to push the Marlins past the Astros, 5-4, before 30,169 fans at Marlins Park.
"It's great that it happened but I'd be just as happy with anybody else doing it," Sanchez said. "[Chris] Coghlan did his job too by getting on base and allowed things to get going. You can see that it was a team effort. We were all battling and focused on one thing and that's winning the ballgame."
Sanchez, who was three-for-five on the night, delivered his biggest hit in the 11th against Astros reliever Brandon Lyon. The first baseman drove home Coghlan to give the Marlins the victory. It was Sanchez's first career walk-off hit.
"I'm happy for Gaby because he's been struggling for the last couple of days, especially with men on base, and he came through big time," Marlins bench coach Joey Cora, who is filling in for manager Ozzie Guillen, said.
Early on, it appeared like the Marlins were headed for an easy win as they scored in each of the first three innings against Houston starter Lucas Harrell. But Houston's bullpen slowed the Marlins offense and gave the Astros a chance to get back in the game.
Miami native J.D. Martinez brought the Astros back from a two-run deficit when he hit a two-run homer off Edward Mujica to tie the game at four in the eighth inning.
"Mujica had the hiccup but we held it together and gave ourselves a chance to win," Cora said.
As the the game went into extra innings for the first time at their new ballpark, Sanchez says the support Marlins fans were giving the team helped motivate them as their bodies began to feel some fatigue.
"It was great and the crowd here was unbelievable," Sanchez said. "They were very energetic and giving us a lot of cheers and giving us energy to continue playing the game. Fans don't understand how great that is for us. It's good to have that home field advantage."
Prior to Martinez's homer, Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco and the Miami bullpen held the Astros offense to just four hits over the first seven innings.
Nolasco got off to rough start, allowing a run to score after facing just two batters. But the right-hander settled down and held Houston to a pair of runs on four hits over five innings while striking out three.
"It was a battle," Nolasco said. "I didn't feel too great but that happens and it's going to happen again. Those are the games where you just find a way and give your team the best chance to win. I just tried to go out there and gut it out as long as I could. I'm glad that we were able to win that one here today."