Miami Marlins

Marcell Ozuna ends slump, lifts Miami Marlins past Arizona Diamondbacks with walk-off double

It had been a miserable month of August for Marcell Ozuna. He was slumping, swinging a cold bat, and everyone knew it, including Ozuna himself. At one point Thursday night, his drought had reached 16 consecutive at-bats without a hit.

“As a player, you know you’re 0 for 16,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “You know. You don’t need anybody to remind you. Sometimes you just need a ground ball [hit], or broken bat, just for confidence.”

Ozuna snapped the skid with a fourth-inning single. But it was in the 10th when he came up even larger, driving in the winning run in a 5-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks with a double.

“When I get the base hit, I look in to the sky and say, ‘God, thank you,’ ” the relieved outfielder said afterward.

The Marlins, who trailed for most of the game, staged a late-inning comeback before coming up with their major-league-leading 10th walk-off victory of the season.

In the process, Mike Dunn set a Marlins franchise record for a reliever with his 10th win. Dunn worked the final two innings to earn the victory.

“I don’t think I’ve had double-digit wins since I was a starter in Low A [ball],” Dunn said. “Like I said before, it doesn’t matter, as long as [a win] is going to somebody on this team.”

Ozuna entered the game in a profound slump, one in which he had gone 4 for 39 at the plate this month and 15 over his previous 88 at-bats, 34 of which ended with him striking out.

But he came through for the Marlins in the 10th.

After Arizona reliever Bradin Hagens, who was making his major-league debut, walked Garrett Jones before giving up a single to Jeff Mathis, he fell behind 3-0 to Ozuna before working the count full.

Ozuna then belted Hagens’ next pitch into the left-center-field gap.

The dramatic ending overshadowed Brad Penny’s first home start for the Marlins since 2004.

Penny’s return engagement to South Florida in a Marlins uniform following a 10-year hiatus didn’t produce what would have been his 50th victory with the organization.

But neither did it produce a loss.

Penny walked three batters — all of whom ended up scoring — and the Marlins found themselves in a 4-2 hole when he was lifted after facing two batters in the sixth.

“You can’t defend a walk,” Penny said. “Thank God we won because it’s hard to sleep when you beat yourself. With those walks, I was beating myself.”

Even without injured All-Star slugger Paul Goldschmidt anchoring the middle of the order for Arizona, the Diamondbacks still managed to inflict enough damage to put the Marlins in a hole.

Penny was making his second start for the Marlins, and he struggled with the same command issues he experienced in the first one. That outing, one in which he allowed four walks, turned into a win over the Reds — his first major-league win in three years.

The Marlins outhit the Diamondbacks, 13-6. But it was the walks and how the Diamondbacks made the most of them that made up for their shortfall in hits.

Penny walked the first batter he faced, Ender Inciarte, on four pitches. Two outs later, Mark Trumbo blooped a single into left, giving the Diamondbacks the early lead.

Arizona scored twice more in the third, with a walk and more two-out damage on Penny’s ledger. After Cliff Pennington drew a two-out walk, David Peralta tripled to drive in one run and Trumbo came through again with an RBI hit.

Penny helped his own cause in the third when he doubled with one out. It was his first major-league hit since belting a grand slam with the Cardinals in 2010. Penny ended up scoring on Donovan Solano’s double, and Giancarlo Stanton followed with the second of his three singles to make it 3-2.

Penny walked Trumbo to start the sixth before giving up an RBI double to Miguel Montero.

The Marlins cut the deficit to 4-3 on Adeiny Hechavarria’s RBI triple in the sixth.

Stanton nearly came through with a game-tying jolt in the seventh off Arizona reliever Evan Marshall. But the ball curled just foul of the pole in right, and Marshall ended up finishing him off by punching him out on strikes — the pitcher’s third strikeout of the inning.

It was the first of nine games for the Marlins against weak opponents dealing with injuries to key players.

After the Diamondbacks, they face the last-place Texas Rangers for a two-game mini-series next week. The Rangers announced Wednesday that their ace, Yu Darvish, was going on the disabled list. Darvish was lined up to start the second game of the Marlins series. Now he is out.

After Texas, the Marlins travel to Denver to face the Colorado Rockies, another last-place team. The Rockies announced this week that their two hitting stars, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, will miss the rest of the season with injuries.

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