Willis Gets 4th Win; Set To Become Dad

Tuesday, April 24th 2007, 7:27 am
By: News On 6

MIAMI (AP) _ Dontrelle Willis became the NL's first four-game winner, then headed for the hospital to become a father.

Awaiting the imminent birth of his first child, Willis pitched 6 2-3 innings and contributed a standup triple Monday to help the Florida Marlins beat the Atlanta Braves 8-7.

Willis (4-1) watched Florida nearly squander a three-run lead in the ninth, then went to the hospital, eager to join his wife and ready to pull an all-nighter. Doctors planned to induce labor.

``I've got some good DVDs,'' he said. ``She told me to bring some funny stuff. ...

``I want to be that guy everybody turns to. This is another chapter. Hopefully she's healthy and the baby's healthy, and they don't turn out to be like me.''

The expectant father with the big windup knows all about unorthodox deliveries, but teammates and opponents were impressed by his ability to focus on his job. Chipper Jones and Jeff Francoeur of the Braves offered him congratulations during the game.

``Even in the heat of battle, they understand the situation,'' Willis said. ``They were like, 'Man, you're a tough guy to be out here tonight.' I was like, 'Nah, just stupid.'''

Willis and his wife, Natalee, were expecting a daughter, Adrianna. The couple went to the doctor Monday afternoon, and Willis was prepared to skip the game if his wife was dilating.

But they were told Natalee's delivery was still hours away.

``She told me, `Go have fun. I'll be fine,''' Willis said. ``She's a tough girl. I couldn't do anything without her.''

The Marlins ace wasn't at his best, giving up eight hits and five runs. But he won his fourth consecutive start against Atlanta and improved to 13-2 in April.

Batterymate Miguel Olivo hit a three-run homer, his first. Dan Uggla homered and drove in three runs, giving him three homers and nine RBIs in two games.

Willis provided some offense, too. He singled in the second inning, then hit a standup triple and scored during the Marlins' six-run fifth.

Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez gave Willis the lineup card as a souvenir.

``I said, 'Keep it so that six years down the road you can tell your daughter, ``I got two hits and I got a win, and then I watched you get born,``''' Gonzalez said. ``Easy day.''

In other games it was Philadelphia 11, Houston 4; Milwaukee 5, Chicago 4 in 12 innings; and New York 6, Colorado 1.

Marlins rookie Henry Owens, trying to stake a claim to the closer's job, took an 8-5 lead into the ninth and retired the first two batters. He then allowed a solo homer to Jones and consecutive doubles to Andruw Jones and Francoeur.

Renyel Pinto struck out pinch-hitter Brian McCann on a 3-2 pitch for his first save.

``It's good to know we kept fighting back,'' Francoeur said. ``If we had one more inning, I think we would have won the ballgame.''

Instead, Florida won its third consecutive game after losing six in a row, while the Braves lost their lead in the NL East, falling a half-game behind the New York Mets.

Francoeur went 4-for-5, including his fourth homer, and drove in four runs to give him 22 RBIs. Andruw Jones drove in two runs on his 30th birthday.

Kyle Davies (0-1) threw 90 pitches in four-plus innings. He walked six and gave up five runs, and his career ERA in six games against the Marlins rose to 9.68.

``I didn't feel bad,'' Davies said. ``I just couldn't settle down. I never could get comfortable.''

The Marlins stranded eight in the first four innings before Olivo broke a 2-all tie with his first homer, which skipped off the top of the scoreboard. Willis tripled off Oscar Villareal and scored on a singled by Hanley Ramirez, and Uggla's homer made it 8-2.

Uggla was glad to give Willis the run support.

``He's the heart and soul of this team, and nobody ever forgets that,'' Uggla said. ``He got a win, and now he's about to become a daddy. You can't ask much more than that.''

Phillies 11, Astros 4

Jimmy Rollins hit a leadoff homer and fell a double shy of the cycle at Philadelphia, and the Phillies had a season-high 20 hits.

Chase Utley also homered, a drive estimated at 460 feet, and Adam Eaton (2-1) gave up four runs and six hits in the first three innings, then didn't allow another run in the next three innings. Philadelphia has won three straight following a 4-11 start.

Chris Sampson (2-1) gave up seven runs and 14 hits in four-plus innings.

Brewers 5, Cubs 4

Prince Fielder homered twice as visiting Milwaukee rallied from a 4-0 deficit, including a 12th-inning drive off Rocky Cherry (0-1), who entered to start the inning in his major league debut. Fielder has four multihomer games, including three against the Cubs, all at Wrigley Field.

Carlos Villanueva (1-0) pitched four scoreless innings, and Derrick Turnbow pitched the 12th for his first save. The last-place Cubs dropped to 7-12.

Mets 6, Rockies 1

Carlos Delgado hit his first home run of the season and John Maine (3-0) allowed seven hits in 7 2-3 innings.

Jose Valentin had a three-run homer in the second off Taylor Buchholz (1-1) and four RBIs, while Moises Alou went 3-for-3 with a walk and two runs. Colorado has lost 14 of 15 at Shea Stadium from 2003 on.