After falling behind early to the San Francisco Giants in two consecutive losses to start the series, the Marlins proved they could fight back multiple times Sunday.
In a back-and-forth affair, Miami finally prevailed 6-5, with the go-ahead run provided by a Jeff Mathis RBI double. The Marlins fought back from a 2-0 deficit and then a 5-4 deficit entering the bottom of the seventh.
“You definitely saw a little bit of everything [Sunday],” manager Mike Redmond said. “But we’ll take it. I give our guys a lot of credit for not giving up, not getting frustrated. At the end of the day, we came out of there with a win.”
The Marlins needed a little bit of luck to escape with the victory.
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Tied 5-5 with one out in the eighth and Ed Lucas on first, Mathis hit a low line drive to center field. Giants center fielder Gregor Blanco dove for the ball and just missed the catch. Instead, the ball bounced and caromed off Blanco’s face, dribbling all the way into left field.
As the ball began moving into left field, Lucas hustled all the way from first to score. Mathis did his part, running to third to draw some attention away from Lucas. Mathis was thrown out as Lucas scored.
“We needed a game like this,” Lucas said. “[Sunday], we put together a run late, granted it had to hit a guy in the face for it to happen. It’s incredibly cliché to say, but sometimes the ball bounces your way.”
The Giants struck first, putting up two runs against Tom Koehler in the first inning.
Hunter Pence hit a mammoth two-run homer to center field, a 459-foot shot that tied for the second longest in Marlins Park history.
The first inning continues to be an issue for Koehler. In his 16 starts this season, he has allowed 16 earned runs on 21 hits in the first inning, giving Koehler a 9.00 ERA for the opening frame.
But Koehler’s offense picked him up.
In the third, the Marlins got on the board via a solo shot from Mathis. They took a 3-2 lead on an Adeiny Hechavarria RBI single in the fourth. Miami took the lead again in the fifth when Donovan Solano scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-3.
“We’ve been struggling to score runs all year,” Mathis said. “We scored some runs the last few days. It was just nice to be on the upper end of that.”
Koehler was in line for the win after pitching five innings, but Brandon Crawford homered for San Francisco in the seventh to tie the game at 4. Later in the inning, Hector Sanchez put the Giants up 5-4 with an RBI double.
But the Marlins held their ground, with Solano providing an RBI double of his own to tie the game in the seventh before Mathis’ heroics an inning later.
“[The emotional swings] can be devastating for some teams,” Redmond said. “But we’ve been through some really rough patches. These guys have bounced back every single time.”
DODGERS ON DECK
Excitement continues to build as the Marlins get ready to host the hottest team in baseball, the Dodgers, beginning Monday.
Rookie phenom Jose Fernandez will pitch in the opener, and all eyes will be on the matchup between Fernandez and fellow Cuban rookie Yasiel Puig.
Fernandez downplayed the battle before Sunday’s game, saying that he has to worry about the Dodgers’ entire lineup. Fernandez pointed out another Dodger swinging a hot bat — former Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez.
Ricky Nolasco, traded from Miami to Los Angeles earlier this season, won’t face his former team. Fernandez was upset before the game, saying he would have hit one of Nolasco’s curveballs out for a home run.
Redmond had his own message for those expecting the Dodgers to coast past the Marlins.
“Don’t ever sleep on the Fish,” he said.
Marlins RHP Fernandez (8-5, 2.45 ERA) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers LHP Hyun-Jun Ryu (12-3, 2.91), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
Marlins RHP Jacob Turner (3-4, 2.89) vs. Dodgers LHP Chris Capuano (4-6, 4.66), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
Fernandez is 5-0 at Marlins Park this season with a 1.39 ERA, compared to a 3.54 ERA on the road.