Donovan Solano was pooped, his mouth parched.
Every time Casey McGehee fouled off a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth on Saturday, Solano was on the go from first. And McGehee fouled off five consecutive Trevor Rosenthal pitches, forcing Solano to return to first and start all over.
“He got a foul ball, a foul ball, a foul ball, a foul ball and a foul ball,” Solano said of McGehee’s long at-bat. “And I thought, ‘I’m really tired. I need some water.’ ”
But when McGehee launched the 11th pitch of his at-bat into the gap in right, Solano still had enough in reserve to score from first with the tying run. One batter later, Jeff Baker drove in the go-ahead run with a pinch-hit single, as the Marlins rallied for a 6-5 victory over the Cardinals.
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“That was an All-Star at-bat right there,” manager Mike Redmond said of McGehee’s latest heroics.
Whether McGehee has done enough to land a precious spot on the All-Star team won’t be known until Sunday, when rosters are announced. But everyone on the Marlins will tell you he belongs.
McGehee had three hits and drove in a pair of runs on Saturday, extending his road hitting streak to 19 games while raising his overall average to .317. His 106 hits lead the league, not counting games that were played Saturday night.
“I’d be lying if I said I don’t care,” McGehee said of making what would be his first All-Star team. “But, at the same time, it’s not going to make or break my year — or my day — being on it or off it. As long as the 24 other guys and the coaches in this clubhouse have faith in me to do my job and trust me to do my job, that’s all I can ask for.”
McGehee’s big hit Saturday came less than 24 hours after he came to the plate in the ninth with a chance to tie the game or put the Marlins ahead. But, with the bases loaded and the Marlins down one run, Rosenthal got McGehee to bounce into a game-ending double play. Afteward, McGehee said it was an at-bat he wished he could do over.
He didn’t have to wait long to get that chance.
After the Cardinals took a 5-1 lead with back-to-back homers off rookie southpaw Andrew Heaney, Christian Yelich pulled the Marlins to within a run with a three-run homer to center off Seth Maness. It remained 5-4 until the ninth, when Solano reached on a one-out single, his third hit of the day.
Rosenthal struck out Giancarlo Stanton, bringing up McGehee. When the count went to 3-2, McGehee fouled off five consecutive pitches in an epic duel between closer and hitter.
“It helped a little seeing him [Friday night],” McGehee said of Rosenthal. “The more pitches you see out of the guy’s hand, the more comfortable you are. He kept making pretty good pitches, and finally I was able to get a pitch I can handle, the last pitch.”
The ball dropped into right-center, where it was picked up by Jon Jay, who came up throwing. The ball and Solano arrived at the plate at about the same time, but Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina couldn’t handle the throw and Solano slid in safely with the tying run.
Already fatigued by so many false starts at first, Solano still managed to score the tying run and was exhausted by the time he got back in the dugout.
“But I was happy, too,” Solano said. “I didn’t care what I feel.”
That left it up to Baker, who rifled a Sam Freeman pitch into left. McGehee, not known for his speed, chugged around third on his way home, and a good throw probably would have had him. But Shane Robinson’s throw from left was off target, and McGehee put the Marlins on top with the go-ahead run.
“I had to take a chance right there,” McGehee said. “I’m not blessed with the greatest speed in the world. I tried to get there as quickly as I could. Sometimes, home plate feels like it’s a lot further than 90 feet.”
Steve Cishek worked the ninth for his 19th save, and the Marlins ended their six-game skid in St. Louis.