HOUSTON -- It was only a matter of time before Carlos Zambrano earned his first victory in a Marlins uniform. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound righty leads the Miami pitching staff with a 1.98 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. After Monday's dominating three-hit shutout, he is now in the win column as well.
Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said he knew full well what he was getting with Zambrano when Miami traded for him in the offseason.
"The reason I took that chance on Carlos is because I know him personally, off the field," Guillen said. "I like that guy when he's on the field. I don't want Carlos to be nice. I want Carlos to be mean, be tough and have some passion for the game. There's a difference between being crazy and being passionate for the game."
Catcher John Buck has seen Zambrano's passion firsthand.
"He's obviously high intensity, and finding that balance and working with him to try to get to that is kind of fun for a catcher to be a part of getting the best out of your pitcher," Buck said. "And then being Zambrano is even cooler for me."
Guillen said he felt like it was time for Zambrano to move on from Chicago, where he spent 11 seasons with the Cubs.
"I think it was better for him to start over on another team," Guillen said. "I think sometimes change helps people. And I think it's helping him right now."
Zambrano credits the coaches and teammates in Miami for allowing him to settle in quickly.
"I thank all the people that brought me here," Zambrano said. "Ozzie is one of them. These guys welcomed me with a lot of patience and a lot of love. When you change teams, that's what you need."
Bonifacio ties Marlins' steals record to start year
HOUSTON -- Marlins center fielder Emilio Bonifacio stole second base in the first inning Tuesday after drawing a one-out walk. He is 15-for-15 in stolen base attempts this year, tying the club record for consecutive steals to start one season set by Chuck Carr, who swiped 15 straight in 1994 before being caught.
Additionally, since Sept. 27, 2011, Bonifacio has stolen 16 consecutive bases without being caught, which also ties the club record. Juan Pierre stole 16 straight from May 30-July 6, 2005.
It was Bonifacio's 51st stolen base since last June 20. He's been caught eight times.
He was off and running Tuesday on the second pitch to Hanley Ramirez from Houston starter Aneury Rodriguez. But the Marlins' third baseman fouled it off. He was gone again on the next pitch and easily swiped it, beating the throw from Astros catcher Jason Castro with a headfirst slide.
Hitting approach key when Marlins return home
HOUSTON -- Marlins hitting coach Eduardo Perez says it is too early to determine whether or not Marlins Park will be more hitter-friendly than Sun Life Stadium.
"We're talking about the month of April," Perez said. "We're still testing it. They've tested the roof open; they've tested the roof closed. They've tested a lot of things.
"I think we're going to have to give it an entire year to see how it's going to play in June and July and September. Hopefully we'll also get to find out how it plays in October."
The Marlins struggled in their most recent homestand, while they entered Tuesday with a seven-game road winning streak. Perez said he didn't have to do much talking to convince the team to take a little different approach at the new ballpark.
"I don't think it's about listening to me," he said. "It's more about their experience. You could see their flustered faces on the way back [to the dugout].
"They saw it. They were like, 'Wow, I got a hold of that.' Or, 'I hit it well, and in a lot of ballparks it goes, but here it doesn't.' We've got to get some backspin going. We get some backspin going, the ball is going to go no matter what."
Perez said it is a matter of having the right approach.
"Looking for the pitch and driving the ball in the gaps," he said. "And if you get it out front, with that rotation, it's going to go -- I don't care who you are, how big, how small. But if you're going to try to lift, my friend, you're in for a long night."
Marlins trying to get Bell back to his old self
HOUSTON -- Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen still prefers to have veteran right-hander Heath Bell as his closer. Getting him back to that role is the task at hand.
With the Marlins up four late on Sunday, Guillen said he was thinking of using Bell in the ninth to give him some work in a non-pressure situation. But the Padres scored a run in the eighth, and Edward Mujica came on in the ninth for the save.
"He's throwing the ball good," Guillen said. "I'm going to try to fit a spot for him. I don't mind putting him in there tonight. He might do it.
"I'm the type of manager ... I'm not going to punish someone when they're on the ground. I want to give him an opportunity and see what happens. But right now, [Steve] Cishek is fine. I'm going to use him for a couple of days."
Guillen said he wants to see Bell throw some innings besides the ninth.
"Maybe the sixth or seventh and get him back to his comfort zone," Guillen said. "And then back to his job. We're a good ballclub; we're a better ballclub if Bell is our closer. That's no doubt. And we need him to be the closer."
But Guillen added that he feels like Cishek has what it takes to be a closer, as well.
"He's got the mentality," Guillen said. "He's got good stuff. He throws strikes. He's got everything going for him right now. Is he going to be my closer this year? I hope not, because that means that Bell is not pitching that well."
Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.