The Marlins have spent most of June waiting for a bounce — lucky or otherwise — to go their way. Their prayers were answered Wednesday when Logan Morrison’s long liner to right struck the top of the padded wall and did a pinball dance that eventually lit up the scoreboard and set the Home Run Sculpture in motion.
Umpires ruled initially that the seventh-inning shot was a double.
But after reviewing video replays, they overturned the original decision and awarded Morrison a home run, a go-ahead shot that propelled the Marlins to a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
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“It’s not about one bounce,” Morrison said of his first career pinch-hit home run. “It’s about consistently getting bounces.”
The way things have been going for the Marlins, they’ll take them any way they can. Wednesday’s victory ended an eight-game losing streak to the Cardinals and kept them from being swept for the fourth time this month.
Much of the credit belonged to the Marlins’ much-maligned bottom of the order, which accounted for four of the team’s five runs. John Buck, who took a .172 average into the game, drove in one run with a single and another with a home run — his seventh — just before Morrison put his out.
The back-to-back homers by Buck and Morrison were the first for the Marlins since June 1, when Morrison and Justin Ruggiano went back-to-back in Philadelphia.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first against Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez, who was seeking his first victory since May 29 and only his second in his past 10 starts.
But Sanchez settled down after that, keeping the Cardinals off the board until backup catcher Tony Cruz belted his first pitch of the seventh for a home run — Cruz’s first big-league homer — that snapped a 2-2 tie.
The Marlins answered in their half of the seventh though, when Buck went deep to left to make it 3-3. At that point, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny brought in left-hander Sam Freeman after Morrison was announced as the pinch-hitter for Sanchez.
Morrison’s career numbers as a pinch-hitter were nothing special: three hits in 12 at-bats without a home run or RBI. But that soon changed.
Morrison began a home run trot as soon as he connected on the 1-0 pitch and saw it head toward right. But it wasn’t that clear-cut. The ball hit the top of the padding, bounced up and struck a metal railing, fell back on top of the padding and rolled onto the field.
“I thought it was out,” Morrison said. “But I got scared when [third-base coach Joe Espada] was pointing back to the [second-base] bag. I thought, ‘Uh oh, I might get thrown out here.’ I was shocked.”
Umpires ruled it a double. But they decided quickly to give it a second look by examining the video. When they returned to the field, they signaled a home run that allowed Morrison to complete his circuit around the bases.
“Thank God for video replay,” manager Ozzie Guillen said.
The Marlins stretched their lead to 5-3 in the eighth on Omar Infante’s RBI double.
Enter closer Heath Bell, whose ninth-inning implosion Monday cost the Marlins a victory. Bell blew a four-run lead in the ninth that night.
On Wednesday, he brought an uneasiness to the crowd of 28,397 when he gave up a leadoff single to Matt Carpenter. One out later, he faced pinch-hitter Yadier Molina, whose two-run homer off him tied Monday’s game.
Molina did no such thing Wednesday, hitting a comebacker to Bell. The pitcher gloved it cleanly, but after wheeling and turning toward second threw the ball to a base that wasn’t yet covered by shortstop Jose Reyes.
Fortunately for Bell and the Marlins, Infante, who was backing up the play, reached down to make the catch and threw on to first to retire Molina. Bell then got Allen Craig to pop up for the game’s final out.
“I blew the game two days ago, and we made a couple of errors in [Tuesday’s] game,” Bell said. “But we felt like we’ve been into games. We’re not playing on our heels and playing not to lose. We’re playing to win now. Things are going to start falling our way.”
On Wednesday, for one of the rare times in June, the ball fell in favor of the Marlins.