HOUSTON -- Marlins third baseman Hanley Ramirez entered Monday's opener of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park in Houston with the highest career batting average (.391) of any active player against the Astros.
He added to that in his first at-bat, delivering a two-out double in the first inning.
Miami hitting coach Eduardo Perez said that Ramirez has been working overtime to get near those statistics against the rest of the league, as well.
"He's getting more disciplined," Perez said. "He has a better attitude as far as approach at the plate. I want him to be able to have a game plan when he goes up there. He's a really good hitter. He's got great hand-eye coordination."
The problems occur, according to Perez, when Ramirez doesn't take a game plan with him to the plate.
"When he goes up there and just tries to hit the ball or tries to look in or just tries to look for one spot, it works against him," Perez said. "Because the pitchers have a plan, the catcher has a plan, the opposing team has one, so he has to have one, too.
"When he's had one, there's nobody better in the game than Hanley Ramirez. He's gone through a lot of ups and downs this season. He's worked so hard. A lot of people think he doesn't work at it. He works hard. He's here early. He works in the cage. He's dedicated to it. He wants to do well."
Versatile 'pen learning from early-season tests
HOUSTON -- Righty reliever Ryan Webb started the season by allowing two runs over his first two appearances in two innings. Since then, he's allowed just two runs over 12 innings. He pitched in three games of the Marlins' current six-game winning streak.
But Webb is just one of a growing number in the Marlins' bullpen who is getting the job done in some pressure situations.
"That's what you need," Webb said. "That's what's going to count. Our goal is to get to the postseason, and that's going to help in the postseason. That's going to help in a tight race at the end of the year in this tough division.
"We're going to be playing some good teams, but we've got a good team too. So we've played a lot of close games, a lot of good pitching matchups. So to get the experience early is good for a lot of guys, especially for some of the younger guys that we do have, stepping up to do these late-inning roles. We've got guys that can pitch in all those situations. So it gives [manager] Ozzie [Guillen] a lot of options to go to."
Webb said he feels like one of the strengths of the Marlins' pen is its versatility.
"I think we've shown that any one of the guys could step up and could eventually be a closer on another team," he said. "I think everybody can do it. I think everybody in the bullpen could have a role as a setup guy. We don't have anybody that's just thrown in there to eat up innings. Everybody's come out and proved they can pitch."
Ozzie ponders Stanton fourth, sticks with LoMo
HOUSTON -- Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said that before Monday's series opener in Houston, he thought about moving hot-hitting right fielder Giancarlo Stanton to the cleanup spot, especially with the success he's had against Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez.
"He's hitting around .500 against [Rodriguez], but I think when you're winning, you try to leave the stuff the way it is, make it easy for everyone," Guillen said.
Stanton was penciled into the sixth spot in the lineup behind left fielder Logan Morrison and second baseman Omar Infante.
Stanton entered Monday riding a current nine-game hitting streak, a team high this season. Morrison is hitting .222 over the same span, with one homer and two RBIs.
Stanton credits adjustments for hot streak
HOUSTON -- Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton entered Monday on a nine-game hitting streak. He was hitting .344 (11-for-32) during the stretch, including five homers, two doubles and 10 RBIs, with a .875 slugging percentage and a 1.307 on base percentage.
"There's only one difference," Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said of Stanton's recent tear. "He's swinging at strikes. Every time he puts the ball in play, that ball is going to be hit hard."
But Stanton has been working on his swing, and he credits that work with the success.
"What I really tweaked was to keep my hands back more," Stanton said. "That helps me keep my shoulder down and stay on the ball better.
Stanton said he felt things starting to click at the end of April.
"The end of April, I started to figure out what was wrong," he said. "It's easy to watch the film and say you know what you're doing wrong. But to turn that into the game and practice [is key]. I felt that different the last week of April."
Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.