Marcell Ozuna’s late-game heroics propel Miami Marlins to victory

The Miami Marlins were down to their last strike in the ninth inning when Marcell Ozuna lifted them past the Arizona Diamondbacks with a two-run home run.

07/09/2014 1:15 AM

07/31/2014 5:15 PM

PHOENIX -- It had been exactly three years and a day since Brad Hand started and won. His long drought didn’t come to an end Tuesday in the desert of Arizona.

But neither Hand nor the Marlins lost.

While Hand failed to receive the win, the Marlins pulled out a dramatic victory on Marcell Ozuna’s two-out, two-run homer in the ninth inning off Addison Reed, a blast that turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead.

“It’s just good to get a win,” Hand said. “It doesn’t matter if I get the win or not.”

The Marlins had done little at the plate all game until the ninth when Ed Lucas reached on a leadoff walk to start the inning. After Giancarlo Stanton struck out and Casey McGehee flied to center, the count went to 2-2 when Ozuna drilled an inside fastball over the yellow line in center.

Ozuna all but predicted the comeback win before the inning started. Ozuna said that when Reed took over in the ninth for the Diamondbacks, he was asked by teammate Adeiny Hechavarria if he knew anything about the pitcher.

“I said ‘I don’t know, but he’s going to lose anyway,’ ” Ozuna said.

The home run was Ozuna’s 15th and saved the Marlins from dropping a 1-0 decision in which the opponents’ only run was unearned for only the sixth time in team history.

As it turned out, it was the second time in four days that the Marlins were down to their last out in the ninth before pulling out a win. They also pulled off the feat in St. Louis on Saturday.

Hand, seeking his first win as a starter since July 7, 2011, pitched well, holding the Diamondbacks to only an unearned run over 6 1/3 innings. But he was out-done by Vidal Nuno, who was making his first start for Arizona since arriving in a trade with the New York Yankees.

Nuno held the Marlins to only three hits, and the Diamondbacks used a Casey McGehee error to their advantage to produce the only run they would end up scoring.

McGehee, who had made only three errors all season -- fewest among National League third baseman -- was charged with two on Tuesday. It was the second of those that ended up hurting the Marlins.

McGehee muffed Nuno’s ground ball to start the fifth, and the pitcher crossed the plate shortly thereafter on Aaron Hill’s single. The Diamondbacks’ bullpen took over for Nuno after the seventh, but couldn’t hold their small lead.

Ozuna, who extended his hitting streak to 14 straight games with a fourth-inning double, came through late for the Marlins on a night when their bats were quiet.

“That was quite a finish there,” said manager Mike Redmond. “In this ballpark, you can do some damage on one swing, and we were able to do that tonight.”

Ozuna said he went to the plate looking for one pitch to hit.

“He gave me one pitch to hit, and I missed it for a foul ball,” Ozuna said. “And then I say, okay, let me focus on going middle away, and he leave the ball over the middle and I got it.”

Ozuna said he knew the instant the ball made contact with his bat that it was gone.

“I feel it on my bat,” he said.

McGehee, who stood to be the goat with his costly error in the fifth, said there was “pure excitement” inside the Marlins’ dugout when they saw Ozuna’s ball take off.

“I thought it was going to get over his head or into the gap,” McGehee said. “As soon as he hit it, you knew we had at least a tie game. I knew he hit it plenty well enough. It was just a matter of it was going to stay up long enough to get over that (yellow) line. It’s way up there (on the wall).”

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