Dee Gordon turned 29 years old on Saturday.
And he’s definitely not slowing down with age.
Gordon’s ability to create havoc on the base paths helped the Marlins back up an ace-caliber start by Dan Straily and beat the Padres 6-3 in 11 innings at Petco Park.
Gordon’s swinging bunt with one out in the 11th and the game tied at 2 forced an errant throw by pitcher Jose Torres that went into right field. Justin Bour, who led off the inning with a pinch-hit single, raced around to score the go-ahead run. And thanks to a bobble in right field by Hunter Renfroe, Gordon ran all the way around the bases to give the Marlins a 4-2 lead.
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“I was happy that JB [Bour] was going to score,” Gordon said. “Then I was about to stop at third and he waved. OK, I got to run fast again.”
Gordon’s play wouldn’t have happened without Martin Prado making two game-saving stops on defense in the bottom of the 10th.
With runners on first and second with one out, Prado dove to his left to stop a ground ball by Manuel Margot, threw to second for a force out and kept Renfroe, who led off the inning with a walk, at third base.
Moments later, Prado leapt to his right and caught a line drive by Erick Aybar to again save the game and end the inning.
“In that moment, you just kind of try and minimize the damage,” said Prado, who played only his fourth game since returning from the disabled list with a hamstring strain. “The first play I felt like I just had to at least stop it. The other one just got in my glove and it just happened. The ball was hit so hard you just have no time for anything. You just have to try to catch it and that’s it.”
Three batters after the go-ahead score in the 11th, Giancarlo Stanton crushed a fastball from reliever Miguel Diaz into left field for a two-run home run – his second of the game and third of the series.
The second blast, which was estimated at 417 feet by the Statcast tracking system, gave Stanton his 20th career multi-home run game and second this season. Stanton hit his first homer in the second inning when he sent a line drive into the first deck in left field to put the Marlins in front 1-0.
Junichi Tazawa gave up a bloop single to Wil Myers, walked Yangervis Solarte and threw a wild pitch that moved Myers to third in the bottom of the 11th. But A.J. Ramos limited the damage to one run and picked up his third save of the season.
It all backed up a quality performance from Straily, who struck out a career-high 14 batters.
The tally was the most by a Marlins’ pitcher in a game since the late Jose Fernandez had the same amount on Sept. 9 of last season against the Dodgers.
The franchise record is 16 set by Ricky Nolasco on Sept. 30, 2009 against the Braves.
“I was really locked in to the point that [A.J.] Ellis hands me the ball and says that’s your 13th strikeout,” Straily said. “I was like, ‘I struck out 13? I knew I had a lot, but didn’t know how many it was at the time.”
Straily’s previous high in a game was 11 last season on May 25 against the Dodgers while pitching for the Reds.
He threw 97 pitches in seven innings and gave up two runs on four hits without a walk, something he stressed as an area of improvement after walking five in his previous start.
Straily’s Marlins’ debut on April 5th in Washington didn’t go so well after he gave up five runs in only 3 1/3 innings despite some tough breaks on a few of the six hits he allowed that day. He has since allowed five runs combined over 17 1/3 innings (2.59 ERA) with 24 strikeouts over his last three starts.
Straily hit his groove from the fourth inning on as he retired 11 in a row with nine strikeouts including a stretch of eight in a row.
“I had only faced one guy in that lineup before so coming through the first time, I was seeing how guys take pitches, how guys swing at pitches,” Straily said. “I just started getting more and more locked in with command and was able to ride it out.”
That stretch began right after Straily gave up a two-run home run to Padres catcher Austin Hedges that gave San Diego a 2-1 lead. Hedges also hit the eventual game-winning home run on Friday night off David Phelps.
Prado tied the game in the sixth with a solo home run – his first of the season.
The Marlins’ infield played great defense throughout the game.
Miguel Rojas started at shortstop and made a tremendous diving stop in the third inning. Rojas initially broke toward second base on a steal attempt by Manuel Margot, but then dove back to his right, snagged a ground ball by Erick Aybar and threw him out to end the inning.
Hechavarria replaced Rojas at short in the sixth due to Rojas experiencing some tightness in his legs according to manager Don Mattingly. Hechavarria made his own impressive diving stop in the eighth on a ground ball by Luis Sardinas.
Marlins’ infielders have made only one error in their past 26 games going back to last season.