Carlos Zambrano goes 7 strong as Marlins top Indians

CLEVELAND -- Carlos Zambrano is happy, relaxed and enjoying life with his new team.

Zambrano, often combative and tempermental earlier in his career, pitched seven strong innings to help the Miami Marlins open interleague play by beating the Cleveland Indians 3-2 Friday night.

"This is awesome, man," said Zambrano (2-2). "We come to play hard every game and everything is fun with this ballclub."

Miami broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Hanley Ramirez. All three Marlins runs were scored by batters who had started rallies with walks.

Marlins center fielder Emilio Bonifacio left with a strained left thumb in the fifth inning and will be examined Saturday.

Zambrano gave up four hits and two runs as he continued a strong first season in Miami after 11 years with the Chicago Cubs. The right-hander has a 1.96 ERA in eight starts since being acquired in a January trade.

"He deserved the win and should have a better record because he has pitched so well all season," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He controlled his emotions and made the big pitch when he had to do it.

"I was a little worried because they have so many lefties in their lineup and he's had trouble with lefties sometimes, but he did well."

Heath Bell worked the ninth for only his fourth save in eight chances. He had pitched twice since Guillen removed him from the closer's role a week ago.

"Ozzie told me to take a step back and clear the air," said Bell, who signed a three-year, $27 million contract in December after saving 132 games for San Diego the past three seasons. Bell had been part of the bullpen blowing four leads for Zambrano, who expressed support of the right-hander after each tough outcome.

"Carlos has been there for me," Bell said. "I heard all the stories, but what is past is past. I met him in spring training and all I know is a good teammate and a good guy."

Indians manager Manny Acta noticed another change in Zambrano -- the veteran's ability to rely on pitches other than his fastball.

"He's more of a pitcher now," Acta said after Cleveland had a four-game winning streak broken. "He's not trying to blow the ball by people. He's got good movement on his pitches. He's cutting the ball and throwing off-speed stuff."

Zambrano walked five, including Johnny Damon three times.

"It still had command, even with the walks," Zambrano said. "My sinker was moving too much and then I was able to control it."

Bryan Petersen opened the Miami eighth with a walk off Tony Sipp (0-2) and was bunted to second by Jose Reyes. Right-hander Joe Smith came on and got Omar Infante to hit a bouncer back to him. Smith whirled and threw to second, but the ball hit Petersen and rolled into right field for an error, putting Marlins on first and third.

Ramirez then flied out to center, scoring Petersen for the second time. Petersen also walked to open the third against Indians starter Justin Masterson, was singled to third by Reyes and scored on Infante's forceout grounder.

Masterson, aware that Bonifacio was 20 for 20 in steals, threw over to first base four times to keep the runner close in the fifth. On one of the pickoff attempts, Bonifacio jammed his hand as he dove back to the base. He then was thrown out by catcher Carlos Santana.

"I saw the replay and thought I was safe," said Bonifacio, his left hand wrapped. "I went to the dugout and couldn't grip a bat, so I knew I had to come out."

Cleveland took a 2-0 lead in the second.

Damon drew a two-out walk and scored from first on Casey Kotchman's ground double into the right-field corner. After Jose Lopez walked, Shin-Soo Choo singled home Kotchman.

The Marlins tied it at 2 in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Giancarlo Stanton.

Masterson gave up two runs and six hits over seven innings, bouncing back from a poor start Sunday in Boston when he gave up six runs over six innings of a 12-1 loss to the Red Sox.

Game notes

Indians DH Travis Hafner went 0 for 4. He had been replaced Thursday after getting hit in the right hand with a pitch. ... Indians 3B Jack Hannahan missed his fifth straight game with a sore back. ... Former Indians star OF Joe Carter and Hall of Fame RHP Phil Niekro, who pitched two seasons in Cleveland late in his career, greeted fans as part of the team's ambassador program. Niekro threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The first 15,000 fans received a Carter bobblehead souvenir. ... Santana went 3 for 4 throwing out potential base stealers and is 8 of 25 overall. ... Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen watched the Cubs-White Sox game on TV in the afternoon. Paul Konerko, whom Guillen managed for eight seasons, was hit in the helmet by Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija. "I texted him right away," Guillen said. "He texted me 10 minutes later and said he was fine." ... Guillen's sister, Darlenys, is married to Indians pitching coach Scott Radinsky. ... Miami is 7-3 against the Indians in interleague play since beating Cleveland in a seven-game World Series in 1997.

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