For the Marlins, Houston had always been a problem.
With Sunday’s 4-2 victory, the Marlins swept the Astros in Houston for the first time, completed their best seven-game road trip in franchise history, and returned home feeling mighty good about themselves.
“Confidence is high,” first baseman Garrett Jones said.
Jones and Marcell Ozuna each belted home runs, and pitcher Jacob Turner recorded back-to-back wins for the first time in his career as the Marlins finished a 6-1 road trip to Atlanta and Houston. That made it the most successful seven-game trip ever for the Marlins, surpassing three different 5-2 out-of-town swings in previous years.
Now they head home for a crucial showdown against the Washington Nationals, who lead the division. By winning seven of their past eight games, the Marlins have kept themselves in contention and now trail the Nationals by seven games in the standings.
“We did what we had to do,” Marlins general manager Dan Jennings said. “Now we head home and hopefully we can duplicate the same record — or better.”
With the Marlins beginning to roll and the non-waiver trade deadline looming Thursday, Jennings and the other members of the Marlins’ front office may give stronger consideration to making trades in a bid to make a late-season playoff push.
Just how good is it going for the Marlins at the moment?
Brad Hand and Turner, whose spots in the starting rotation were hanging by threads, combined to go 3-0.
“Great road trip, with a lot of great efforts from a lot of different guys,” manager Mike Redmond said. “We’ve got a good feeling going home.”
On Sunday, the Marlins jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first off Astros starter Collin McHugh. Jordany Valdespin drove in the first run with an RBI triple, McGehee’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0 and Jones went deep for his 11th home run of the season.
Ozuna hit his 16th home run in the sixth.
Turner, who won both of his starts on the road trip, gave up six hits and walked two over 5 2/3 innings. But the Astros managed only one run off him, that coming on Jose Altuve’s leadoff homer in the first.
“Didn’t have my best stuff but, at the same time, made some pitches when I had to to get out of jams,” Turner said.
Getting staked to a three-run lead right off the bat didn’t hurt, either.
“It’s all the difference in the world,” Turner said of the early advantage. “To go out there pitching up three runs, you feel like you can really attack the hitters.”
Turner lost his spot in the rotation and was demoted to the bullpen in June. But he was given another chance to start when the Marlins got to Atlanta, and the right-hander responded with a win there Tuesday.
“I know the type of stuff I have, and I know the type of pitcher I am,” Turner said. “At the same time, this is an opportunity for me to show them that I should stay in the rotation and keep going. So each game is huge, both for the team and for myself.”
Though he gave up a solo shot to Jon Singleton in the ninth, Steve Cishek recorded his 26th save, with five coming on the road trip.
“It’s huge,” Cishek said of the team’s road trip. “After the All-Star break, we were talking about putting the first half behind us and grinding the second half out and trying to make a little run. This is a great way to start.”