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Welcome to the Marlins' Last Place Tour -- better known as, ``If you can't make it here, you can't make it anywhere.''
The Marlins played their favorite team Tuesday night and beat Milwaukee for the fourth time this season. But that's only part of the good news for Florida, which saw Derrek Lee belt two homers and Mark Redman pitch his best game since returning from the disabled list, in a 12-4 romp.
Better news comes from the schedule-makers, who have gift-wrapped the next 2 ? weeks for the Marlins, who face nothing but last-place teams in a 16-game stretch. And where better to start the tour than Milwaukee? After all, the Marlins haven't lost to the Brewers this season. The only other teams the Marlins have a winning record against are the Padres (2-1) and Reds (4-2).
''We play them nine times,'' said Marlins manager Jack McKeon, adding that a 4-0 start means nothing. ``You would love to be 9-0, but that's asking a lot.''
Still, it is a beginning to a vital stretch in the Marlins' season.
''This gives us an opportunity to put together a good stretch,'' Lee said. ``They are all big-league teams, but it does give us an opportunity [to make a move].''
It was the Marlins' fifth consecutive road win and the first of a six-game road trip. They better get used to the idea. Tuesday's game started a stretch of 21 of 31 games on the road, leading to the All-Star break. And it could be the defining stretch of the season because no one knows what the team will look like by then.
There's growing speculation the Marlins will trade Mike Lowell, and if recent history is any indication, the Marlins need to win -- quickly. A year ago today they were over .500 in second place and just 4 ? games behind the Braves, and even though they were still over .500 (45-43) at the break, they were 11 games out. That's when the Marlins traded left fielder Cliff Floyd and opening day starter Ryan Dempster. Those trades created ill will in the clubhouse from players who looked over their shoulders until the July 31 nonwaiver trading deadline and never recovered on the field, finishing 79-83 -- 23 games out of first place.
Redman, meanwhile, should pitch against Milwaukee every day. He has thrown against them twice this season and has allowed just two earned runs in 17 innings. He didn't allow any Tuesday, and left with an 8-1 lead after eight innings. He gave up six hits -- all singles -- and struck out four while walking three. The only run he gave up came after a Lowell throwing error in the second. After giving up an RBI single to starter Ben Sheets, Redman was never in trouble again.
''I guess it's confidence,'' Redman said of his success against Milwaukee. ``I had that complete game against them and a high strikeout  game, and that carried over to this game.
``I had a good game plan and I made some adjustments. I didn't throw as many changeups. Instead I went inside with my fastball.''
Redman expressed relief after giving up six earned runs in 9 2/3 innings (5.50 ERA) in his first two starts after returning from a broken thumb.
''It was nice to get that first win,'' he said. ``It was nice to get [a 4-0 lead in the first]. You know if you make a mistake it won't come back to haunt you.''
Lee was in a 1-for-16 funk and hadn't hit a home run since May 25 when he homered in the first inning -- a 415-foot two-run shot that gave Florida a 4-0 lead. He hit his second homer -- a 430-foot blast to center -- off Sheets to lead off the fourth.
Nine of Lee's 12 home runs this season have come on the road, but that's not unusual. Over his career as a Marlin, Lee has hit 78 homers on the road and 33 at Pro Player Stadium.
Lee's second homer gave Florida a 5-1 lead, and that appeared to be plenty against a Brewers team ranked 15th in the NL in hitting.
The Marlins exploded for a season-high seven runs in the top of the ninth as 11 came to the plate. The first five Marlins reached base, and Todd Hollandsworth, who had been 0 for 22, hit a two-run double. The Marlins have 16 extra-base hits in four games against the Brewers and are hitting .297 against them this season.