The Palm Beach Cardinals smacked two home runs and defeated the Fort Myers Miracle 4-2 Saturday at Hammond Stadium.
Starlin Rodriguez belted a solo home run off of Miracle starter Cole Nelson in the second to put the Cardinals up 2-0, and Geoffrey Klein launched another solo shot against Michael Tonkin in the ninth to give Palm Beach an insurance run.
The Miracle could only scratch across two runs off of Cardinals starter Todd McInnis, who earned the win after pitching effectively for 5 2/3 innings. One of the runs was a solo home run off the bat of Steve Liddle in the sixth that cut Palm Beach's lead to 3-2.
The trio of Jose Almarante, Dean Kiekhefer and Zach Russell combined to allow just two hits over the final 3 1/3. Russell ran into trouble in the ninth but struck out Lance Ray looking on a 3-2 pitch with the tying run at first base.
Nelson pitched out of trouble several times in four innings of work. He stranded seven runners but gave up three runs in taking the loss. Relievers Ricky Bowen and Nelvin Fuentes pitched two scoreless innings apiece. Overall, four Miracle pitchers stranded 14 base runners.
Palm Beach got on the board in the second. Rainel Rosario doubled and Klein singled to put runners at the corners. A sac fly by Luis De La Cruz brought home Rosario for the first run of the game.
Rodriguez's homer made it 2-0, and the Cardinals took a 3-0 lead on an RBI double by Chris Edmondson in the fourth. The Miracle eventually cut the lead to 3-2 but would not get any closer.
The Miracle (56-72, 28-33) and Cardinals (60-69, 29-33) will meet for the final time Sunday at Hammond Stadium. The start time has been moved up to 11:30 a.m. in anticipation of Tropical Storm Isaac moving closer to the Southwest Florida coast.