David Phelps’ homecoming was short and not so sweet, but the Marlins’ bullpen provided a pick-me-up and helped the team get out of town with its first win of the season against the Cardinals.
Five Miami relievers followed the injured starter Phelps and held St. Louis to one run and two hits in a combined 6 1/3 innings, and Derek Dietrich hit a go-ahead, bases-clearing triple in the fifth to lift the Marlins to a 6-4 victory Sunday afternoon.
The Marlins (47-70) had lost six in a row against the Cardinals (75-42) — who have the best record in Major League Baseball — dating back to last season.
“You always got to be prepared down there. Anything can happen,” said Marlins reliever Chris Narveson, who earned his first win since 2012 and drove in his first run since 2011. “We were prepared today, and it was a good team win.”
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The series finale started ominously for Phelps — a native of Hazelwood, Missouri, who grew up rooting for the Cardinals — and the Marlins. With one out in the third he gave up his second home run of the day to Jason Heyward, whose two-run shot into the right-field bullpen put the Cardinals up 3-1.
Phelps threw one more pitch, an 88 mph fastball to Randal Grichuk, before walking behind the mound and immediately receiving a visit from a Miami trainer. The left-handed Narveson came on and retired the first seven Cardinals he faced, allowing a solo home run to Stephen Piscotty, but nothing else in 2 2/3 innings of work.
Phelps, who was pitching on 10 days rest and approaching his career-high innings pitched mark (113) set last season, left the game with what Marlins manager Dan Jennings called right elbow discomfort. Jennings said Phelps, a 28-year-old right-hander who is 4-8 with 112 innings this year, will be placed on the disabled list and return to Miami to be evaluated by team physician Dr. Lee Kaplan.
“He’s had a little bit of tenderness,” Jennings said. “We gave him the start and he battled through it. He just said he felt it. He felt a little burn there. Hopefully it’s nothing. Hopefully it’s minor.”
The Marlins’ offense, which scored three runs in the first two games of the series and allowed the Cardinals’ starting pitcher to reach the ninth inning in both, also made a major contribution. Miami scored five runs in five innings against St. Louis starter Carlos Martinez, whose team was 18-3 in his first 21 starts this season.
Dietrich, Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria had multi-hit games, with the two middle infielders scoring two runs apiece and the shortstop Hechavarria extending his hitting streak to 10 games. Cole Gillespie stretched his hitting streak to seven games with an eighth-inning single.
The Marlins took advantage of two fielding errors by Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong, on potential double-play grounders, and the game started to turn after his first miscue put Miami runners at the corners with no outs in the fifth. Hechavarria bolted for home on a bunt to the right side by Narveson, and was initially called out on a barehanded flip to the plate by Martinez.
But the call was challenged and overturned after a review, with the run cutting the Marlins’ deficit to 3-2. Gordon followed with his third consecutive single — he leads the majors with 20 three-hit games this year — to load the bases.
The left-handed-hitting left fielder Dietrich, who entered with 11 RBI in 50 games this year, cleared the bases with a go-ahead triple into the right-field corner.
▪ Monday: Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino (1-1, 4.86 ERA) at Brewers RHP Matt Garza (6-12, 4.82), 8:10 p.m., Miller Park.
▪ Tuesday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (1-0, 5.00) at Brewers RHP Tyler Cravy (0-4, 5.92), 8:10 p.m., Miller Park.