Even with a gimpy knee, Ivan Nova worked his magic on the Marlins.
For the second time this season, Nova manhandled Miami in a 3-1 Pirates victory on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park.
The loss ended a 3-4 trip for the Marlins, who dropped the final two games of the Pittsburgh series, squelching a bid to return home on a winning note.
Nova, whom the Marlins (27-35) explored as a potential free agent signing last winter, fired a complete-game shutout at Marlins Park on April 29. On Sunday, he held the Marlins to one hit over six scoreless innings before leaving after just 77 pitches.
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“He pretty much did the same thing to us in Miami,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “I thought [he did] a little better [Sunday] than in Miami. In general, we didn’t do enough to win that game.”
The Pirates (28-35) might have been trying to protect Nova, who left his previous start after seven innings with left knee inflammation. Nonetheless, Nova (6-4) became the first Pirates pitcher in more than 30 years to work at least six innings in each of his first 13 starts.
Nova was flawless through three innings on Sunday before giving up a leadoff hit in the fourth to J.T. Riddle. The only other Marlins baserunner while Nova was on the mound came when Christian Yelich reached on David Freese’s fielding error in the same inning.
The Marlins scored their only run of the game on Ichiro Suzuki’s solo homer in the eighth off Pirates reliever Daniel Hudson. It gave Ichiro two home runs this season, the most he’s hit since 2013.
Dee Gordon gave the Marlins a chance when he reached on a pinch-hit single in the eighth after Ichiro’s homer, but Miami went quietly after that.
“It kind of got us going a little bit,” Mattingly said of Ichiro’s home run to right. “Then, getting a guy on after that, at least we’re putting them in a situation where every ball they throw has a chance to tie the game up. We just weren’t able to capitalize.”
The Marlins managed only four hits on Sunday.
Marlins starter Jeff Locke was unable to match Nova’s success. Facing his former Pirates teammates for the first time, Locke gave up two runs with two outs in the first inning and another run in the sixth.
“It was a little shaky at first,” Locke said of his outing. “I did some good things, did some bad things. I’ve been really good at getting two [outs]. I haven’t been able to get the third out. That’s frustrating, of course. It’s a major-league team you’re playing against. If you give guys extra outs or can’t put someone away, they’re going to capitalize.”
Locke said he expected to feel some nerves pitching in Pittsburgh, where he spent his first six seasons.
“I thought maybe there might be,” Locke said. “It’s the same thing. Just another game really. No extra motivation, no extra adrenaline, nothing. It’s the same thing.”
STANTON STRIKES OUT AS A PINCH-HITTER
Giancarlo Stanton’s bruised right wrist must not be bothering him too much.
While Stanton didn’t start Sunday, he was used as a pinch-hitter and struck out swinging in the eighth.
Stanton was hit on the wrist by a Trevor Williams pitch on Saturday, forcing him to leave the game.
Mattingly said he was hopeful Stanton could return to the lineup on Tuesday night when the Marlins open a two-game mini-series at Marlins Park against the Oakland Athletics.
“It’s still a little swollen, a little sore,” Mattingly said before Sunday’s game while adding that a return on Tuesday was realistic for Stanton. “Right now, [Tuesday is] what we’re hoping.”
▪ Monday: Off day.
▪ Tuesday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (4-2, 3.96 ERA) vs. Oakland Athletics RHP Jharel Cotton (3-6, 5.20), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Wednesday: Marlins RHP Edinson Volquez (3-7, 3.41) vs. Athletics (TBA), 12:10 p.m., Marlins Park.