The Marlins lost once again to Edinson Volquez on Thursday night but the evening could have been a whole lot worse.
While the 7-2 loss to Volquez and the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park was forgettable on a lot of levels for the Marlins, the one memory everyone will have is of left-handed reliever Dan Jennings being struck on the left side of the head by a line drive off the bat of Jordy Mercer in the seventh inning.
The ball struck Jennings so hard that it popped high into the air and shortstop Adieny Hechavarria caught it behind second base for the first out of the inning.
Jennings originally tried to get up on his own but then staggered back down to knees. After being examined by athletic trainers from both teams, Jennings was taken off the field in a cart. He raised his hand after being loaded into the cart, which drew a loud ovation from the crowd of 29,305.
Jennings was taken to an area hospital for observation, and it was not immediately clear whether he would be kept overnight or be able to make the Marlins’ late-night flight to Cincinnati, where they open a three-game series Friday night against the Reds.
“That was scary,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “Hopefully, everything checks out all right. He never lost consciousness, and he understood the questions.”
The Marlins managed only one hit off Volquez, a fifth-inning single by Donovan Solano, who was subbing at third base for the slumping Casey McGehee.
Giancarlo Stanton kept the Marlins from being shut out when he hit National League-leading 27th home run with two outs in the ninth inning off rookie Stolmy Pimental.
The Marlins lost for the sixth time in their past eight games and dropped 7 1/2 games behind the division-leading Washington Nationals in the National League East. They entered the day 5 1/2 games back in the wild-card standings.
Rookie left-hander Brian Flynn (0-1), making a spot start for injured right-hander Jarred Cosart (strained left oblique) two days after being recalled from Triple A New Orleans, held the Pirates scoreless through the first three innings of his fifth major-league start. Then he gave up three runs in the fourth inning and two more in the fifth.
“He’s going to need an out pitch to be a starter up here,” Redmond said. “He did a good in the first three innings, but they started to get to him the second time through the order.”
In all, Flynn was charged with five runs in four-plus innings. He allowed eight hits and two walks, and struck out three. It left him still searching for his first career victory.
Mercer led off the fourth with a double and scored on Russell Martin’s single. One out later, Starling Marte doubled and Jayson Nix walked to load the bases.
Gregory Polanco then hit a two-run opposite-field single to left.
Run-scoring singles by Mercer and Gaby Sanchez in the fifth inning extended the Pirates’ lead to 5-0.
Polanco hit a two-run double in the eighth off closer Steve Cishek, who was getting work after having not pitched since last Saturday. Cishek gave up four hits in two-thirds of an inning.
Meanwhile, Volquez stifled the Marlins, though Redmond thought he benefited from home plate umpire Chad Fairchild’s generous strike zone.
“He had help, a lot of help,” Redmond said. “He got a lot of strike calls.”