It’s probably a good thing Marlins reliever Mike Dunn used his glove to cover up his face when the top of the eighth inning finally ended Thursday afternoon at Marlins Park.
The words he shouted into his mitt certainly didn’t look like they were PG-rated or something the parents of 10,000 elementary- and middle-school students in attendance would have wanted them to hear.
In a span of three batters, the Phillies took a 3-0 Marlins’ lead built by Marcell Ozuna and Henderson Alvarez and mashed it with a Chase Utley double, Ryan Howard sacrifice fly and Marlon Byrd two-run home run to the deepest part of the park in center field.
The good news: The Marlins still won despite the meltdown.
Christian Yelich’s two-out, bases-loaded single to center off Jake Diekman in the ninth lifted Miami to its 19th home win of the season, a 4-3 thriller, in front of a paid crowd of 25,507 on CBS4’s ninth annual Weather Day.
“Had we lost that game, it would have been a tough one,” said Marlins manager Mike Redmond, whose team won in walk-off fashion for the fifth time this year and fourth in May.
“It was fitting to get Yelly up there at the end. He’s been up there in a couple situations where he’s had a chance to get a big hit and hasn’t come up with one. I was sitting over there saying, “Man, this would be the perfect day for him to get a big hit.’ ’’
Yelich, who was hitless in his first four at-bats, slapped a bouncer through the hole off the hard-throwing left-hander Diekman, who had put together a career-long scoreless innings stretch of 10 2/3 innings before Thursday.
It was Ozuna who scored the winning run after reached on a one-out single to right.
“[Diekman is] nasty, man, a lefty that throws 97, 99. You can’t really do much off those guys,” said Yelich, who hadn’t had a walk-off hit since he was in Single A Jupiter. “Especially a situation like that, you probably only get one pitch or two pitches to do something with. You try to keep it simple and not do too much.”
The Marlins (25-23) didn’t win their 19th game at home until July 10 last year. At 19-6, it’s the best 25-game start at home in franchise history — better than the 1997 World Series-winning team that started 18-7.
Thursday, it was Ozuna and Alvarez who helped get them there.
In the seventh, Ozuna hit a two-run home run off Phillies starter Cole Hamels on a 0-2 cutter the southpaw had left over the plate. Before Giancarlo Stanton collected his major league-leading 45th RBI with a two-out single to right in the sixth, Hamels had given up just three hits and allowed only one other base runner.
Before his career-high five RBI in Wednesday’s 14-5 win, Ozuna was hitting .140 (8 for 57) in May. He has produced as many RBI (seven) and homers (two) in the past 48 hours as he did in the first three weeks in May.
He also made another stellar defensive play for the second day in a row. In the third inning, Ozuna fielded a single to center by Jimmy Rollins and threw a perfect strike to third base to retire Hamels, who had led the inning off with a single.
“It was a little bit frustrating because I didn’t get a hit, my team was losing on the road and I was not doing my job,” Ozuna said of his struggles this month. “I was a little frustrated, but I was positive every time at the plate. If I can’t play offense, I can play defense. That’s what I say every day.”
Ozuna’s day backed another stellar home start for Alvarez. After tossing his second shutout of the season in his last home start May 6 against the Mets, Alvarez went seven scoreless against the Phillies on Thursday. He gave up just four hits, two walks and struck out three on 105 pitches.
Over his last six starts at Marlins Park, Alvarez is 3-1 with a 1.47 ERA, including three shutouts and a no-hitter.
“Sometimes it kind of looks like it might be teetering, but he goes up there, he pounds the strike zone and keeps them off balance,” Redmond said of Alvarez. “He kept us in the ballgame. “... For us to get through the seventh inning with a starter is big.”