Everyone isn’t swinging a hot bat right now for the Marlins, but the right combination of guys have been lately.
Fresh off a red-hot road trip, Adeiny Hechavarria, Dee Gordon and Martin Prado kept it going Friday night, combining for six of their club’s nine hits in a 3-2 victory over the Washington Nationals at Marlins Park.
Gordon recorded his fourth three-hit game of the season and Hechavarria doubled and scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth on Prado’s one-out RBI single to right off Aaron Barrett.
Prado then made a fine defensive play to start the ninth, helping Steve Cishek earn his first save of the season as the Marlins (6-11) won their third in a row.
“We still have some guys that need to get going offensively, but this is a team, man ‒ this is 162 games,” said manager Mike Redmond, who until this recent little run of success was rumored to be on the hot seat.
“You’re not going to have eight guys swinging the bat red-hot. It doesn’t work like that. That’s why we talk about being a team and picking each other up. When you start winning ballgames, that’s what you see. It’s fun for these guys to win a couple ballgames in a row and listen to that music in the clubhouse.”
Mat Latos, who didn’t get out of the first inning in his first home start two weeks ago, pitched into the seventh inning for the first time this season and went stride for stride with Nationals starter and Marlins thorn Jordan Zimmermann.
Latos gave up two runs on six hits with one walk and four strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings, but received a no-decision after Bryce Harper tied the score with a two-out single in the bottom of the sixth. Still, it was an encouraging start for Latos, who despite being 0-3 with a 7.31 ERA has pitched deeper in each of his past three starts since being blasted for seven earned runs in his first start.
“I can’t tell you how coming back here after that embarrassment there was a lot of emotion running through me that first inning,” Latos said. “You get that first batter out and then that second batter out. It’s, ‘Well, I’ve been here before. See if we can get this third guy out.’ After that, all the weight was off my shoulders and I was ready to go.”
Zimmermann, who no-hit the Marlins to end the 2014 season and came in 7-0 with a 2.67 ERA in his past 11 starts against the Marlins dating to May 28, 2012, had a 1-0 lead until Ichiro Suzuki, Hechavarria, Latos and Gordon strung together four consecutive two-out hits in the fifth.
Latos’ first hit of the season, a sinking, line drive to center, plated Ichiro from second and tied the score at 1-1.
“We knew he could hit,” Redmond said sarcastically of Latos, a career .118 hitter coming in. “That might have been a home run in Cincinnati [where he played before], but not here.”
The hit also made history in Japan. The run was Ichiro’s 1,967th in his professional career, tying him with Sadaharu Oh for the most ever by a Japanese player.
Gordon then followed that with his second hit of the game, a soft line drive to right field that drove in Hechavarria with the go-ahead run. But Gordon was thrown out by Harper trying to advance to second.
Latos then opened the sixth with a four-pitch walk to Denard Span and it came back to bite him. Harper, who drove in the Nats’ first run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth, lined a two-out single to right to tie it.
Latos’ night ended an inning later after a pair of back-to-back one-out hits. After A.J. Ramos struck out Dan Uggla, Zimmermann was lifted for former Marlin Reed Johnson, who bounced out to third.
Hechavarria, Gordon and Prado then delivered the heroics in the eighth.
Prado, who had four RBI in Sundays’ win in Philly, has driven in seven runs in his past eight games. Hechavarria is now 20 for 42 (.476) with 12 runs scored since opening the season 1 for22. Gordon, among the leaders in baseball with 27 hits, is batting .370 this season.
“When I went to home plate the only thing I was thinking about was I want to step up for my teammates,” Prado said. “We’re playing better baseball. This is the way everybody was expecting for this team to play.”
The Nationals, who were 27-11 against Miami the past two seasons, had won eight of the previous nine meetings between the teams. Friday’s game was the first of 19 meetings between the teams, who will play 13 of those games after the All-Star Break.