A.J. Burnett threw almost as many balls as strikes. He labored through a long first inning, fumed about a tight strike zone and tossed a water cooler when he came out of the game.
His 150th career victory was a tough one.
Burnett lasted five innings and three relievers completed a harrowing six-hitter, helping the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Miami Marlins 6-5 Tuesday night.
As Phils manager Ryne Sandberg said, Burnett battled.
"I'm tired of hearing the word 'battled,'" Burnett said with a smile. "But it's the truth, so you've got to say it."
Although the veteran right-hander has been less than sharp in several starts, he's 3-3 with a 3.32 ERA.
"I've been able to make a pitch here or there to minimize the damage," he said.
That was the case all night for the Phillies, who gave up eight bases on balls. Jonathan Papelbon walked two and gave up an RBI single by Garrett Jones in the ninth before retiring Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the final out and his 12th save in 13 chances.
Jimmy Rollins homered for the second game in a row to put the Phillies ahead to stay. They began the night ranked 26th in the majors in homers, but they've hit seven in the past three games — all wins — while scoring 26 runs.
Burnett doubled for his first extra-base hit since 2005 and scored.
John Mayberry Jr. hit for him in the sixth and delivered a two-out, two-run single. Mayberry has seven RBIs in nine at-bats as a pinch hitter this year.
The victory provided some consolation for the Phillies, who learned Tuesday that ace Cliff Lee will be sidelined at least a couple of weeks with a mild elbow strain.
Burnett, who pitched for the Marlins from 1999 to 2005, won his first start at Marlins Park despite struggling with his command. He walked four and needed 96 pitches to get through five innings, but he departed with a 4-3 lead.
The Phillies said umpire Will Little's strike zone was part of the problem.
"It makes you wonder how many years you've got to pitch to get a call," Burnett said. "They were very, very close, but you put it behind you."
Marlins manager Mike Redmond failed to do that, and he was ejected in the sixth inning when he complained from the dugout after Adeiny Hechavarria was called out on strikes.
After getting tossed by Little, Redmond ran onto the field to continue the argument, and his tantrum turned comical when he kicked dirt and dragged his foot through the batter's box to indicate he thought the pitch was inside.
"I tried to be patient," Redmond said, "but at the end of the day I couldn't watch anymore."
Anthony DeSclafani (1-1) allowed five runs in 5 1-3 innings. He was making the second start of his career for Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, who is out for at least a year with an elbow injury that required surgery.
The game marked the start of a six-game homestand for the Marlins, who lost at Marlins Park for the first time since May 3. They still have the best home record in the majors at 17-6.
Phillies third baseman Cody Asche committed an error in the eighth when he dropped a pop foul hit by Saltalamacchia. On the next pitch, Saltalamacchia hit an RBI single to cut the Phils' lead to 6-4.
That put runners at first and third with none out, but Mike Adams retired the next three batters.
"We had tons of opportunities — chances to score, add on runs," Redmond said. "Some contact would have driven in some runs."
Phillies center fielder Tony Gwynn Jr. made a running back-to-the-plate catch near the 418-foot sign to rob the Marlins of a run in the fourth.
Burnett doubled with two out in the fifth and scored on Rollins' sixth homer to put the Phils up 4-3. The Phils scored twice in the first on a run-scoring double by Ryan Howard and an RBI groundout by Marlon Byrd.