Justin Ruggiano broke a tie in the ninth with a homer to left-center, and Kevin Slowey and the bullpen held the potent Reds to five hits.
Two runs does not a turnaround suggest for the run-famished Marlins. But two was enough for the Marlins to savor a rare victory — only their fourth of the season — as Justin Ruggiano’s towering solo home run off Aroldis Chapman in the ninth propelled Miami to a 2-1 victory.
And Steve Cishek earned his first save of the season.
“When Ruggiano hit that home run, I just got fired up,” Cishek said.
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The Marlins have had precious few reasons to celebrate this season. But between Ruggiano’s second home run in as many days, another brilliant pitching performance by Kevin Slowey and Cishek’s first save, a handful of players could wear smiles afterward.
“Beating them on the road in a tight game like that, it’s got to be confidence building for us,” Ruggiano said. “It lets us know that we can pitch against anybody, and we can beat ’em.”
With the score tied 1-1 in the ninth, Ruggiano belted Chapman’s 3-1 fastball to left-center for his third homer of the season. Estimated distance on the home run: 418 feet.
Had Ruggiano hit the same ball at Marlins Park, it would have been caught for a routine out.
“It was one of those ones when I hit it here, I knew it had a chance,” Ruggiano said. “If it had been in a different ballpark — our ballpark — I would have been taking a right turn.”
Once again, Slowey was sharp, turning in six solid innings and holding the Reds to one run. Manager Mike Redmond, a former batterymate of Slowey’s on the Twins, said he can’t remember Slowey ever looking as good as he is now.
“He would know, certainly better than I would,” Slowey said. “But this is certainly one of the best stretches I’ve had feeling-wise.”
By not receiving a decision, Slowey has now gone 944 days since his last major-league win on Sept. 18, 2010. But the Marlins finally scored a run for him, something they hadn’t done in any of his first three starts.
It came in the third when Nick Green and Donovan Solano delivered back-to-back singles off Mat Latos to start the inning and Slowey put down a bunt to move them up a base. After Juan Pierre struck out, Placido Polanco slashed a single into right that scored Green.
But with Giancarlo Stanton standing on deck, Solano was thrown out at the plate by Jay Bruce.
“I know it looks bad with Stanton coming up,” Redmond said. “But [Solano] was trying to be aggressive and pick us up a run.”
Green finished with three singles for his first three-hit game since the 2009 season when he was with the Boston Red Sox. Stanton, meanwhile, remained in a slump, going0 for 4, striking out twice and failing to deliver with the go-ahead run at third and one out in the sixth. With the Reds infield playing in, Stanton grounded to shortstop Zack Cozart, who gunned down Pierre at the plate.
Stanton still has not homered or driven in a run.
And Slowey still has gone nearly three years since his last win even though he has been the Marlins’ best starting pitcher so far. In his four starts, Slowey has an 0-2 record to show for his 1.90 ERA.
After giving up a first-inning run Friday, Slowey held the Reds to three hits over the next five innings before departing for a pinch-hitter.
Relievers Chad Qualls and Mike Dunn kept the Reds off the board in the seventh and eighth before the ball was turned over to Cishek in the ninth. It was Cishek’s first save opportunity since April 7 — and only the second all season — when he blew the lead in the ninth against the Mets and suffered the loss.
Cishek gave up an infield single to Cozart before striking out Joey Votto, retiring Brandon Phillips on a fly ball and ending it on Bruce’s line drive to right.
“I was just waiting for this situation to come up,” Cishek said. “I’ve been dreaming about it.”