The Marlins did not exactly pound the Pittsburgh Pirates into submission Tuesday night in a 6-3 victory, but they will take runs any way they can get them these days, especially when playing at PNC Park.
The Marlins scored five runs in the eighth inning to overcome a 2-1 deficit in the opener of a three-game series.
The big inning consisted of only one extra-base — a double by Christian Yelich that drove in the final run — along with three walks, two singles and an error.
“We scratch and claw every night,” Marlins reliever Bryan Morris said. “It may not always be pretty, but we always keep battling until the last out. If you do that, you give yourself a chance to win a game like this.”
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It was the Marlins’ biggest inning since also scoring five runs June 27 against Oakland, and the eighth time they have scored five or more runs in an inning this season.
The Marlins had scored just 11 runs in losing four of their previous five games, a skid that followed a season-best, six-game winning streak. They had also lost their past six games at PNC Park while scoring a total of 13 runs.
After Gregory Polanco put the Pirates ahead 2-1 in the seventh with an RBI single, Giancarlo Stanton started the eighth by drawing a one-out walk from Jared Hughes (6-3). Third baseman Josh Harrison then booted a potential double play ball by Casey McGehee to keep the inning alive.
Pinch-hitter Jeff Baker greeted left-hander Justin Wilson with a single to load the bases. Wilson then forced in the tying and go-ahead runs when he walked Marcell Ozuna and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who drew three walks.
The Pirates brought in Jeanmar Gomez, but the first three batters he faced all drove in runs. Adeiny Hechavarria singled, pinch-hitter Reed Johnson grounded into a fielder’s choice and Yelich doubled to make it 6-2.
“We had some really good at-bats in that inning,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “We’re not a team that draws a lot of walks, but our guys were really patient there.”
Stanton, Hechavarria and Garrett Jones each had two of the Marlins’ nine hits.
Marlins starter Brad Hand did not pitch at least seven full innings for the first time in four starts but had a solid 6 1/3-inning outing. The left-hander allowed two runs and six hits while walking one and striking out two.
Hand has a 2.72 ERA in seven starts since being recalled from Triple A New Orleans.
“I feel like my stuff has been good, and I’ve been pounding the strike zone for the most part,” Hand said.
A.J. Ramos (5-0) got two outs in the seventh inning, and Morris pitched a scoreless eighth before Chris Hatcher gave up a run in the ninth on a single by Chris Stewart. It was just the third run Marlins’ relievers have allowed in their past 35 innings.
The Pirates, who had won 14 of their previous 17 home games, opened the scoring in the third inning when Jordy Mercer’s two-out double drove in a run. Mercer had two hits.
The Marlins countered with an RBI double by Ozuna an inning later that scored Jones, who had singled.
It was a good start to a six-game road trip for the Marlins, who entered the day 6 1/2 games behind the Washington Nationals and 5 1/2 games back in the wild card.
“Every game from here on out is important,” Hand said. “We’re going to try to win every game we can in August and September and hope that keeps us playing into October.”