At 6-19, the Marlins still have the worst record in the major leagues, but here’s a sliver of hope for the team’s fans — Giancarlo Stanton is suddenly hot.
Stanton went 3 for 3 with two homers, a run-scoring single, a walk and four RBI as the Marlins rallied to beat the Chicago Cubs 6-4 in a battle of last-place teams Sunday.
He was so dominant that he apparently decided to let his bat do his talking for him. After the game, Stanton did not speak to reporters, who waited for an hour for him to make an appearance.
Marlins manager Mike Redmond, who did speak to the media, was full of praise for Stanton, who hit a two-run homer in the first inning and a solo shot in the eighth, giving him three long balls in less than 24 hours.
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“This guy is a special player — a game-changer,” Redmond said. “It was just a matter of time. Over the past four or five days, we’ve seen him put together some good at-bats. I know confidence-wise, he has to be feeling pretty good.”
Playing before an announced crowd of 19,817 at Marlins Park, Miami salvaged the last of a four-game series against the Cubs.
Entering the bottom of the sixth, when Miami rallied from a 3-2 deficit, the Marlins had led for only four full innings in the four games against Chicago.
But Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco (2-2), who allowed three runs in the first three innings, kept Miami in the game by retiring the last 15 batters he faced.
“I thought I utilized my fastball pretty good,” Nolasco said. “My slider and my split weren’t working too well. I was just trying to throw fastballs and let them put the ball in play.”
Nolasco’s recovery set the stage for the Marlins’ sixth-inning rally, which started with a single to left by Juan Pierre. At the time, it was just the Marlins’ second hit of the game.
Pierre stole second and, with two outs and first base open, Cubs manager Dale Sveum decided to pitch to Stanton. He made them pay by drilling a single to left to tie the score 3-3.
Sveum said having starting pitcher Carlos Villanueva walk Stanton there was never part of his plan.
“Not in that situation,” he said. “I just felt [Villanueva] had the pitches to pitch around him and keep the ball away from him. I didn’t have my left-hander [James Russell]. He was down today, so I didn’t have anybody for [on-deck batter Greg] Dobbs, and I didn’t want to put the winning run on, either.”
After Stanton singled, he advanced to second when the Cubs tried to throw Pierre out at home. Stanton then scored when Donovan Solano lined a single off the glove of shortstop Starlin Castro, who mis-timed his jump.
That made it 4-3, and the Marlins got an insurance run in the seventh when shortstop Nick Green hit a solo homer to left. Stanton added his second homer in the eighth.
Marlins reliever Mike Dunn worked into a jam in the eighth when he gave up two one-out singles to Castro and Anthony Rizzo. But Dunn escaped when Alfonso Soriano lined out to left and pinch-hitter Scott Hairston popped out, forcing Pierre to charge in and make a fine running catch.
Closer Steve Cishek came on in the ninth to collect his third save of the season, although he gave up a solo homer to Dioner Navarro.
As for the key moment in the game, Redmond said the Cubs’ decision to pitch to Stanton in the sixth inning is to be expected — for now.
“They are going to test him,” Redmond said. “And if he makes them pay, they will have to start pitching around him.
“Up until the past couple of days, they have been able to go at him. But when he has days like this, that is going to make the decision for the other manager a lot tougher.”