Giancarlo Stanton might be gone, but the Marlins continue to find ways to win.
Powered by homers from Christian Yelich and Justin Bour and with starter Tom Koehler keeping the Cubs hitters off balance, the Marlins won their fourth in a row Friday afternoon with a 2-1 victory over Chicago in front of a Wrigley Field crowd of 41,212.
Koehler, who allowed only a first-inning run over six innings, stayed ahead in the count with breaking balls and then spotted his fastball.
“Once we got that established it allowed for the game to move a little smoother,” said Koehler, who won his third start in a row.
Koehler’s performance had manager Dan Jennings thinking of a main figure from World War II.
“He’s General Patton,” Jennings said. “He’s blood and guts. He just comes out there and gives it to you every day and gives you everything he’s got.”
The game was tied 1-1 in the sixth, with Chicago starter Jason Hammel matching Koehler by retiring 14 consecutive hitters at one point.
Then first baseman Justin Bour did what he has been doing a lot of lately by slamming Hammel’s first-pitch fastball into the right-field basket to give the Marlins what turned out to be the game’s decisive run.
“He’s taking great swings,” Jennings said of Bour. “The league adjusted to him, he’s adjusted back, and it’s fun to watch him right now.”
Bour, who was drafted by the Cubs in 2009, has now homered in four consecutive games, which is the eighth time in Marlins history a player has done that.
“A homer in any park is cool,” Bour said. “But it is very nice that it gave us an opportunity to win the game.”
A.J. Ramos came on in the bottom of the ninth, and after allowing leadoff hitter Chris Coghlan to single Ramos threw to second on the ensuing bunt by Jonathan Herrara to get Coghlan, helped by a nice stretch by shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to get the out.
“That was big to keep that tying run off second base,” Jennings said.
Ramos then recorded the last two outs to pick up his 13th save of the season.
The last three wins from the Marlins have all been in one run games and Jennings sees that as a sign of maturity for his team.
“I think they are seeing the importance of the little things,” he said. “Truly there is no little thing but when you execute those things and get the opportunity for runs or putting runners in scoring position I think that is big.”
THIS AND THAT
When Yelich homered to left in the first inning Friday, he extended his personal hitting streak to six as he is hitting a sizzling .555 in that stretch. It is a far cry from his .220 start in April and May.
“I was playing terribly at the beginning of the year, that’s no secret,” Yelich said. “You just have to keep climbing and keep trying to stick it out.”
He pointed to a lot of extra time in the batting cage and video room as one of the reasons for his success.
Yelich was not sure that moving up in the lineup as he has been hitting second lately was another reason for his hot streak. “It doesn’t really matter to me where I hit, my approach doesn’t change,” he said.
▪ Jennings noted infielder Michael Morse was going to play in a rehab game Friday A ball after suffering what he described was a minor tweak to his back, but did not rule out him playing here this weekend.
“We want to test it to see exactly where he is and so he could be here in the next day or two,” Jennings said.
Morse has been on the disabled list since May 26.
Chicago’s iconic Wrigley Field, known affectionately as the Friendly Confines, is undergoing the first year of a massive renovation including a new video board in left field. Jennings was impressed with he saw.
“I like it. It is really nice. It really doesn’t take away from the confines,” he said, especially with the video board. “It is a nice upgrade all around. We live in a society now where everybody wants to see it on video. I hear what you are telling me but if I see it, I might believe you.”
▪ Saturday: Marlins RHP Jarred Cosart (1-3, 4.12 ERA) at Chicago Cubs LHP Clayton Richard (2015 debut), 7:15 p.m., Wrigley Field.