Brad Hand pitched one of the best games of his career at the perfect time for the Marlins on Sunday, leading Miami to a 3-2 victory over San Francisco.
Hand earned his first win as a starter since 2011 by giving up two runs over a career-high seven innings as the Marlins (44-52) snapped a six-game losing streak.
“That was a big start — exactly what we needed,” manager Mike Redmond said. “We needed seven innings and he gave it to us.”
Adeiny Hechevarria gave the lefty a 3-2 lead in the seventh by doubling, advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt, and coming home on a wild pitch by Tim Lincecum.
Following Hand’s long outing, Bryan Morris and Steve Cishek each pitched a clean inning to avoid a Giants (54-43) sweep.
Cishek’s save was his first since blowing an opportunity in a 4-3 loss to Arizona on July 9.
“It took a little longer to get him back out there in a save situation than we anticipated, but he looked good today,” Redmond said.
Casey McGehee got Miami started with a two-run homer — his second of the year — in the first inning after Jordany Valdespin walked.
San Francisco responded in the third when Buster Posey hit a two-RBI double. Lincecum and Hand then dueled for the next three innings before Hechevarria gave Hand the edge.
Hechevarria’s run made up for an earlier baserunning error that led to him being thrown out at third. Marcell Ozuna made a similar mistake on the previous play.
“This is what irritates me,” Redmond said. “It takes away from a nice win when we are still making mistakes, mistakes that we shouldn’t make. We’ve talked numerous times to both [Hechevarria and Ozuna] about situations and those are mistakes that just can’t happen.”
The win marks a high point for Hand during an eventful season. After competing for a starting position in spring training, Hand opened the year as a long reliever. He was given two early starts but was sent back to the bullpen after compiling an 11.37 ERA in those outings.
In May, he hit the disabled list with an ankle sprain as his name appeared in trade rumors. Hand found a groove while rehabbing from that injury and was given another shot as a starter July 3.
He has posted a 3.22 ERA in four starts since then.
“All of my outings have been pretty good since I got back,” Hand said. “I’ll just build on this win and try to go out there in five days and do it again.
With Eovaldi giving up eight runs in Friday’s 9-1 loss and Alvarez getting hurt early in Saturday’s 5-3 defeat, Redmond burned through most of his bullpen, and had brought up Anthony DeSclafani before Sunday’s game to provide a fresh arm.
But it wouldn’t be needed as Hand pitched longer than Eovaldi and Alvarez combined.
“Brad Hand did a heck of a job, especially knowing we were a little taxed in the bullpen,” McGehee said. “For him to give us seven solid innings, that was huge not only for today but this next week going forward.”
After the game, Redmond said Hand could stick as a starter this time.
“I’m encouraged by the way he’s pitched,” Redmond said. “We want this guy to be in our rotation — we feel he’s got the stuff to stick in the rotation — it just now comes down to consistency.”