Justin Bour showed up a little early to the ballpark a couple of times this weekend.
Bour hit baseballs off a tee while manager Don Mattingly and hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo each offered insight.
Perhaps due for some positive results, it looks like Bour’s extra work paid off.
Bour’s bat came alive Sunday afternoon with a career-high four hits, including a two-run homer, and he posted a career-best six RBI in a 10-3 rout of the Pirates.
“Over the last couple of weeks I’ve felt better and better every day,” Bour said. “On the tee, it was just a chance to get out there and see the way the ball is flying off the bat and get those contact points and sort of get back to basics.”
Bour, who entered the game hitting .184, went 4 for 5 and became the sixth Marlin to record four hits and six RBI in a game. He was the first since Gaby Sanchez did it on June 11, 2010.
“It was really just a matter of time for Justin to break out, before he did something like this,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “There were good at bats [from him] on the road. There were a couple swings in Seattle where he hits the ball out of the ballpark the opposite way. … so you were seeing signs.”
Bour flew out to right in his final at-bat needing a triple to complete what would have been the Marlins’ first-ever cycle.
“I don’t think that’s really my approach,” Bour said. “I don’t think many people had me getting a triple right there.”
Bour’s breakout came at an opportune time as the Marlins snapped a four-game losing streak to end their first month of the season with an 11-12 record.
His two-run home run to right field in the seventh inning highlighted a six-run outburst for the Marlins in that frame that matched their season-high for one inning.
The previous such inning came a week earlier in San Diego when Bour showed a sign he might be coming out of his hitting slump when he belted a go-ahead three-run homer that helped the Marlins win that game.
“He's going to be real important to us, and to our lineup, if we're going to get where we want to go,” Tom Koehler said. “We're going to need, not more nights like tonight, because they're going to be rare. But just some of those hard line drives he's been hitting at people to fall.”
The Marlins fell behind 3-0 in the first as Koehler gave up four hits in the inning including a two-run home run to Josh Bell.
Koehler did not allow any more runs over the next three innings, but was replaced by Dustin McGowan in the fifth. McGowan ran into some trouble in the fifth as the Pirates loaded the bases with two outs, but escaped the jam when Jordy Mercer popped up to Martin Prado in foul ground.
“Tom gets in trouble when he misses locations,” Mattingly said. “You miss locations to good hitters, sometimes you get away with it but often times you don’t. What Tom does is he hangs in and he keeps pitching and he kept us there.”
Bour was standing near Ichiro pregame during the ceremony honoring his 3,000th hit. Bour said he’s tried to emulate Ichiro’s even-keel approach as he’s dealt with his slow start offensively.
“Ichiro’s played a long time and he comes in every day with the same approach and same mindset,” Bour said. “That’s something that’s helped me through this, just being the same guy every day and trying to stay away from ups and downs.”
Bour broke an 11-inning scoring drought for the team with a double that scored Marcell Ozuna after he doubled to lead off the second. In the fourth, Bour singled to drive in Giancarlo Stanton and cut the deficit to 3-2.
Then Bour gave the Marlins their first lead of the three-game series when he delivered a two-out, two-run single to right field that put them ahead 4-3.
Bour’s home run in the seventh was his fourth of the season and traveled 387 feet.
“I think a lot of the success I had today was because of the guys in front of me,” Bour said. “I came up in really good situations ... so for me it was just capitalizing on really good opportunities because my team did some good work in front of me.”