The remaining six-plus weeks of this disastrous Marlins season is all about avoiding the ignominious, specifically 100 losses and last place in the National League East.
The Marlins took incremental steps in that direction with Thursday’s 9-7 win against Philadelphia, which extended their lead over the last-place Phillies to three games and left Miami on pace to finish 67-95.
Winners of four of their last five, the Marlins pounded Phillies starter Jerome Williams, who departed in the second inning after relinquishing eight runs and recording just five outs.
Martin Prado hit his fifth home run, a two-run shot in the second inning.
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Three batters later, Marcell Ozuna, back from what he called “jail” (Triple A New Orleans), cracked his sixth homer and second since his return from 5 1/2 weeks in the minors.
Thursday’s blast by Ozuna was a majestic shot that hit the top of the left-field foul pole and traveled 434 feet at a velocity of 110 mph.
After Ozuna’s homer, Williams allowed two more base-runners before he was mercifully lifted.
That four-run second inning followed a four-run first in which the Marlins scored their runs in less interesting ways: a wild pitch, Justin Bour’s groundout, Derek Dietrich’s sacrifice fly and Adeiny Hechavarria’s single. Hechavarria extended his career-long hitting streak to 13 games.
The offensive eruption was more than enough for Brad Hand, who allowed four hits and one run in six innings, striking out five.
The Marlins’ bullpen wasn’t nearly as effective.
Right-hander Scott McGough, called up earlier in the day from Triple A New Orleans, yielded three runs in the seventh inning, ruining his Marlins debut after posting a 1.95 earned-run average for three minor-league teams this season.
Bryan Morris gave up two runs in the eighth, pulling the Phillies to within 8-6. Philadelphia then put the potential tying run on base, but Mike Dunn got the final two outs of the eighth.
Prado’s sacrifice fly in the eighth drove in Ichiro Suzuki, who tripled, pushing the lead to 9-6. A.J. Ramos allowed a homer to Cody Asche in the ninth but picked up his 21st save.
Right fielder Giancarlo Stanton had a minor setback as he works his way back from a left wrist injury that has sidelined him since June 27, well beyond the initial four-to-six week timetable. Still, Stanton said he remains hopeful he can return by early September.
Stanton (.265, 27 homers, 67 RBI in 74 games) said he wants to be able to hit off a machine for five to seven days in a row without pain. He achieved that for two days this week but felt pain on the third day. He said he planned to try again before Thursday’s game.
“There’s still some pain but it’s getting stronger,” he said, adding it’s not possible to hit effectively without the wrist feeling 100 percent.
▪ Right-hander Jose Fernandez, sidelined since Aug. 7 with a biceps strain, is doing long tossing, and manager Dan Jennings reiterated that Fernandez will pitch again this season.
▪ Reliever Carter Capps, out since Aug. 2 with a right elbow strain, threw in the bullpen Thursday and hopes to return soon.
▪ Right-hander Jarred Cosart’s vertigo symptoms, caused by a sinus and inner-ear issue, have abated and he’s scheduled to pitch a Single A game in Jupiter on Monday.
▪ Right-hander David Phelps, out for the season with a stress fracture in his right forearm, said he will be ready long before spring training.
▪ Left fielder Christian Yelich said his right knee contusion, which has sidelined him since Aug. 9, has improved but he still isn’t able to run at full speed and isn’t sure when he can play again. “Just one thing after another,” he said of this disappointing season. “Everyone has been hurt. This [stinks].”
▪ To make room for McGough, the Marlins sent catcher Tomas Telis to Triple A New Orleans. Telis, who was hitless in eight at-bats since being acquired from the Texas Rangers, might be the Marlins’ backup catcher next season.
▪ Friday: Phillies RHP Jerad Eickhoff (Major League debut) at Marlins RHP Kendry Flores, (1-1, 2.35), 7:10 p.m., Fox Sports Florida.
▪ Saturday: Phillies RHP Aaron Harang (5-14, 4.79) at Marlins (LHP Justin Nicolino, 2-1, 4.24), 7:10 p.m., Fox Sports Florida.