Jupiter, FL - The Palm Beach Cardinals got key hits from Anthony Garcia, Nick Martini and Charlie Tilson to rally past the Charlotte Stone Crabs 5-2 on Wednesday night at Roger Dean Stadium. The Cardinals have won eight of their last nine games and 16 of 19 dating back to June 3.
Trailing 2-1 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, Alex Mejia started the rally with a bloop single into shallow right-center field. A Parker Markel wild pitch moved Mejia to second before Garcia drove him home by launching a double to the wall in left-center field.
The 2-2 tie didn't last long as Martini followed with an RBI single to right field to give the Cardinals their first lead of the game at 3-2. Gerwuins Velazco singled to put runners on first and second and Tilson cleared the bases with an RBI double of his own to give Palm Beach the 5-2 advantage.
Dixon Llorens entered in the ninth inning and struck out two in a scoreless inning of work to pick up his fifth straight save for the Cardinals. Llorens hasn't allowed a run in 8.1 innings over his last eight appearances.
The Stone Crabs (0-7, 31-43) got on the board early with two runs in the first inning off starter Silfredo Garcia but were shut out the rest of the way.
Tilson and Ildemaro Vargas teamed up to manufacture the first run of the game for Palm Beach in the third inning. Tilson led off the frame with a triple down the right field line and Vargas doubled off the wall deep in right-center to plate Tilson and cut the Birds' deficit in half, 2-1.
Tilson went 3-for-5 with two RBI and a run to pace the offense. Martini also turned in a three-hit night, scored a run and chipped in an RBI for the Cardinals (6-1, 42-34).
After the first inning, Garcia settled in and pitched four strong innings. The right-hander finished with two earned runs on four hits over five innings. He walked two and fanned four on the night.
Danny Miranda Jr. was terrific in extended relief of Garcia, tossing three scoreless innings to give the Cardinals the chance to rally in the eighth. Miranda (2-1) surrendered three hits, walked one and struck out four and was credited with the win.
Markel (2-3) took the loss for Charlotte after allowing all four runs in the eighth inning. He pitched three innings of relief for starter Albert Suarez.
The Cardinals and Crabs will play game two of the three-game set on Thursday night with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. LH Jimmy Reed will make his Florida State League debut for Palm Beach against RH Reinaldo Lopez (4-2, 3.04) for Charlotte. The game will be broadcast live on PalmBeachCardinals.com.