Two runs was hardly the kind of offensive eruption the Marlins were hoping to generate at hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park. But it was enough to get them a badly needed win.
And it was more than enough for Nathan Eovaldi, who turned in eight strong innings Friday as the Marlins held on for a 2-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
Eovaldi put the clamps on the Reds, just as he did six days earlier when he faced them in Miami. The only difference Friday was that he recorded the win, his first since June 23.
“He was just like he was the last time he faced these guys,” said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. “Overpowering fastball. The slider was working really well. He mixed the curve ball. With a guy like him, who throws so hard, you can’t help but sit on [the fastball]. But he has so many weapons.”
After holding the Reds to a run on two hits over seven innings in last Saturday’s start at Marlins Park, Eovaldi was even stingier Friday in a ballpark that is notorious for burning out scoreboard lightbulbs. The Reds were limited to only five hits by the right-hander, none that caused any damage.
The Marlins would have shut out the Reds in Cincinnati for the first time since 2005 if not for the ninth inning when the Reds came up with a run off closer Steve Cishek. But after getting the tying run to third with one out, Cishek shut the door.
Adeiny Hechavarria made a diving stab between the mound and second on a Skip Shumaker ground ball, holding the runner at third before throwing to first for the out. Cishek closed out the win by striking out Zack Cozart.
Once again, the Marlins didn’t do much at the plate, something that has turned into an all-too-common theme the past two weeks. The game was scoreless until the sixth when Saltalamacchia’s sacrifice fly scored Casey McGehee from third.
Giancarlo Stanton provided a bit of extra cushion in the seventh when he clubbed his league-leading 28th home run, a solo shot that reached the upper deck in left-center. It was measured at 437 feet — a relatively long blast by most standards, but not nearly as long as the one Reggie Abercrombie belted here for the Marlins in 2006.
The estimated distance on Abercrombie’s shot was 493 feet, making it the third-longest home run hit in Great American.
But it was Eovaldi who stood tallest for the Marlins.
Eovaldi had already thrown 97 pitches through seven innings. But manager Mike Redmond let him go back to pitch the eighth. Eovaldi struck out the first two batters before retiring Jay Bruce on a fly ball for the third out.
By going eight innings, Eovaldi equaled his career-long outing.
“His pitch count was up going into the eighth inning,” Saltalamacchia said. “I know they probably wanted him to finish that inning. It was almost like he was better that last inning.
“That last inning, he reached back and made sure he was going to get through that inning.”
Following the game, the Marlins announced that Brad Penny — who last pitched for them in 2004 — would start Saturday for them. Penny will be making his first major-league appearance since 2012 when he was with the Giants.