The Marlins put three starting infielders recently on the disabled list in the span of a week.
On Thursday night, Derek Dietrich and Miguel Rojas provided that unit a much-needed lift.
Dietrich and Rojas each went 2 for 3 with the former driving in three runs and the latter making two run-saving defensive plays that backed rookie Chris O’Grady’s best performance in four major-league starts in a 4-1 Marlins victory over the Reds at home. The Marlins (47-53) won for the fifth time in seven games.
“[O’Grady] had better command today,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He was having some trouble with his command the first game in Cincinnati [this past Saturday] and got himself in trouble. For him to have success he’s going to have to command the ball.”
O’Grady threw seven shutout innings, allowing five hits and two walks while striking out five on 96 pitches. O’Grady walked six in his most recent start against the Reds and couldn’t finish the fifth inning. He hadn’t pitched past the sixth in his first three starts.
“My last start wasn’t ideal,” O’Grady said. “I had a lot of walks, especially early on. So that was my main focus point this week, just to limit the walks and to get a good mix of pitches in and let my defense play behind me, which they did.”
O’Grady put runners on base in each of his first five innings, but Rojas’ defensive gems helped bail him out of trouble twice. O’Grady worked perfect sixth and seventh innings.
O’Grady became the fourth Marlins’ starting pitcher to record seven-plus shutout innings this season.
Rojas returned to the starting lineup Thursday after missing the previous two games with a sore left shoulder, and didn’t show any ill effects from the injury.
Reds starter Robert Stephenson hit a ground ball up the middle that nearly got through and would have given Cincinnati the early one-run edge in the fourth. But Rojas made a sliding stop and backhanded the ball to Dee Gordon for an inning-ending force out.
“It’s all about Chris, the game he was pitching and at that point you just want to lay your heart out there for him,” Rojas said. “My positioning was great. I was playing a little bit up the middle. He didn’t hit it that hard so it gave me a chance to get up the middle and flip it to Dee.”
With two outs in the fifth and Joey Votto at first base, Adam Duvall lined a double down the left field line. Marcell Ozuna fired the ball back into the infield and Rojas delivered a perfect relay throw to the plate to nail Votto and preserve the Marlins’ 1-0 lead at the time.
“That’s how you draw it up,” Dietrich said. “Bone [infield coach Perry Hill] has a defensive video he makes every year and that’s probably going to go in it.”
Dietrich belted a solo home run – his fifth of the season – in the bottom of the fourth inning, drew a bases loaded walk in the fifth, and singled home another run in the seventh.
“It was an elevated fastball,” said Dietrich said of the pitch he hit for the home run. “Starting to put some good swings on them.”
Dietrich has eight RBI over the past two games and also made a nice stop on a sharp ground ball by Jose Peraza in the sixth.
The Marlins failed to take advantage of Stephenson’s command struggles until the fifth when they scored a pair of runs on Dietrich’s walk and a sacrifice fly by Tyler Moore.
Stephenson walked seven batters and the Reds issued nine overall.
Junichi Tazawa gave up the Reds’ lone run in the eighth and exited with two runners on and two outs.
But A.J. Ramos came in and converted the sixth four-out save of his career and his 20th of the season. Ramos has been the subject of trade speculation in recent weeks, and sources told the Miami Herald Thursday that only a handful of teams are expressing interest in Ramos, but the club is still likely to deal him before Monday’s non-waiver deadline.
“Probably in my two years here, A.J.’s never been sore which is kind of amazing for a guy you use a lot,” Mattingly said. “There’s days where I take him out just because I’m not going to let him go four [games] in a row. But he’s probably the only guy I’ve ever been around that’s never come and said, ‘I’m sore today. I don’t feel good.’ It’s been nice to have him.”
▪ Mattingly said after the game that Kyle Barraclough underwent an MRI a day after he was placed on the disabled list on Wednesday with a right shoulder impingement, but the results were not yet known.
Miami Herald sportswriter Clark Spencer contributed to this report.