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Stanton climbs homer ladder with monster road trip

LOS ANGELES -- There's been plenty of flexing and fist pumping going on in the Marlins' dugout of late.

Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Reyes share a home run ritual where they slap hands twice, hop and flex a muscle.

"I've been enjoying that," Reyes said. "He's hitting so many home runs."

At the rate Stanton is launching long homers, he and Reyes may get muscle cramps. The 22-year-old All-Star just completed a team-record-setting road trip, pounding out eight homers in 11 games. And he didn't start in one of those games, although he did pinch-hit.

According to STATS LLC, Stanton's eight homers top the previous Marlins road-trip mark of six. Miguel Cabrera was the last to hit six, doing it over a 10-game span from July 14-24, 2005. Mike Lowell, on a 12-game trip from May 12-25, 2003, also had six. The first to reach that total was Preston Wilson, on a 13-game trip from Sept. 12-24, 2000.

"I'm hitting home runs, but I don't feel like it's a great hitting roll," Stanton said. "I've hit some mistakes."

Stanton started the road trip by going deep in three straight games in Colorado. And he capped it with blasts in all three games at Dodger Stadium, including one on Sunday in Miami's 6-2 win.

A resident of Sunland, Calif., Stanton purchased tickets for at least 20 people to all three games at Los Angeles.

"When I come here, baseball's second, baseball's third on the list," Stanton said. "All my friends and family are here. Everyone who watched me grow up. There were about 20 here [Sunday]. There were more on Friday and Saturday."

A rising star, Stanton's raw power continues to amaze. He now has 29 homers in a season in which he's missed substantial time. On July 8, the slugger underwent right knee surgery, and he missed a month. The injury kept him out of the All-Star Game and the State Farm Home Run Derby, where he was hopeful of putting on a show for a national audience.

While Stanton played in April, he got off to a slow start because he was hindered by a sore left knee, which caused him to miss much of Spring Training.

"This guy, he's just got so much power, it's ridiculous," pitcher Mark Buehrle said. "Every time he hits the ball, it has a chance to go out. He's got almost 30 home runs right now, and he's missed a month and a half. That's scary when you think what he could have done if he was healthy all year."

Stanton, in fact, didn't hit his first home run until April 29. But in his 80 games since, he has 29 homers. The only players with more over that span are Adam Dunn (34) and Ryan Braun (30).

"Like I always say, he's unbelievable what he's able to do -- day in, day out," said Reyes, who also hit a home run on Sunday. "He's going to hit 50 home runs one year in the big leagues. It's unbelievable power, what he has. I don't see anyone in the big leagues hit the ball farther than Giancarlo."

The rest of the league has taken notice. Reyes sees it with opposing infielders, who cringe when Stanton steps into the box.

"Everybody knows," Reyes said. "When you see the opposite team joking about it, saying, 'Play in! Play in!' They're always scared. They play way back. Everybody knows what kind of power that he has."

Before Miami's three-city road swing, Marlins third-base coach Joe Espada predicted five homers from Stanton. That ended up being conservative.

"It's better to be too low and missing high," Espada said. "That's pretty impressive. He's in a very different zone right now."

In an otherwise disappointing season, the Marlins are enjoying Stanton's power show.

"[Stanton] is the highlight of the month right now," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "This kid, every time he comes to the plate, the way he is swinging, he is in scoring position."

Miami Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton