Behind Five-Run Eighth, Marlins Top Pirates 6-2

Brad Hand Goes Seven Strong In Victory


Though the Pirates have the best home record in the National League at 34-21, the Marlins got to their pen in the series opener for a 6-2 comeback victory.

Brad Hand got the start in this one and went 6 1/3 strong, allowing just two earned runs on six hits and one walk en route to striking out four Pirates’ hitters. Hand now has a 2-2 record to go along with a 2.72 ERA in 43 innings since returning to the Marlins rotation on July 3.

Charlie Morton toed the rubber for the Pirates in this one and allowed just one run over seven innings of work on six hits and four walks. The only run Morton gave up came in the top of the fourth inning. The Pirates had a 1-0 lead at the time, but Marcell Ozuna doubled (17) in Garrett Jones to tie the game at one.

Before any runs scored, however, Hechavarria impressed once again with his glove with this defense gem to retire Chris Stewart to lead off the third:

The next run in this game would come in the bottom half of the seventh inning, when the Pirates retook the lead on a one-out RBI single by Gregory Polanco.

Five-Run Eighth Inning:

The Marlins, however, responded with a rally in the top half of the eighth inning. Jared Hughes entered the game in place of Morton but wouldn’t last long in this one.

After getting Jordany Valdespin to ground out to second to begin the inning, Hughes walked Giancarlo Stanton. Casey McGehee then reached on a fielding error by Josh Harrison, forcing Clint Hurdle to go to the pen for a southpaw with the bat of Garrett Jones looming, who had gone 2-2 with a walk in his first three plate appearances.

Justin Wilson came in to replace Hughes, but he wouldn’t last long either. Jeff Baker pinch-hit for Jones and promptly singled into right to load the bases with one out. Wilson then walked both Ozuna and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to bring home two runs and give Miami a 3-2 lead.

Hurdle would go back to the pen for a right-hander in Jeanmar Gomez, but as was the case for every other Pirates’ reliever, he wouldn’t fare well either.

Gomez gave up a single to Adeiny Hechavarria to bring home Baker and extend the lead to 4-2, and although he got Reed Johnson to hit a ground ball to third, Johnson would beat the throw to first to bring home Ozuna and make it 5-2 in favor of Miami.

The Marlins wouldn’t stop there, though, as they continued to blow the game open on an RBI ground-rule double by Christian Yelich (16) to score Saltalamacchia. Valdespin then walked to reload the bases with two out, forcing Hurdle to make yet another move to the pen.

Stolmy Pimentel would replace Gomez and become the Pirates fourth different reliever in the eighth inning alone, and he would strike out Stanton on three pitches to finally put an end to Miami’s eighth inning rally that saw them score five runs and take a commanding 6-2 lead.

With the win, Miami moves to 55-57 on the season and will gain a game on the first-place Nationals with the Mets leading 6-1 late, meaning they’ll be just five and a half games back.

Here is how the NL East will shake up if the Mets can finish off the Nationals:

[table id=178 /]

Other Notes:

Both Garrett Jones and Bryan Morris returned to PNC Park for the first time tonight since being acquired by the Marlins. Jones signed a two-year $7.75MM deal with Miami in the offseason and Morris was acquired on June 1 for the No. 39 pick in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft. Here’s how they fared:

Jones went 2-2 with a walk and a run scored and Morris worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning with two strikeouts on 97 mph fastball’s to hold what was at the time a 6-2 lead for the Fish.

Matt Stein is a season-credentialed media member covering the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also assisting with coverage of USF Athletics. He attended the University of Tampa and graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Sport Management.