The All-Star break was no time to relax for Derek Dietrich.
He took off one day and practiced the other three. It paid off Friday.
Dietrich belted two home runs, singled and stole a base as the Marlins defeated the Rays, 6-5, in their first game back from the All-Star break.
“I took one day (off) and hit three days,” Dietrich said. “I love to work, I’ve always worked, I’ve been in a good rhythm and I just wanted to keep it going. Hopefully it paid off a little bit.”
They were the first home runs hit by Dietrich in 52 career at bats against the team that dealt him to the Marlins in their 2012 trade for Yunel Escobar. And both were big.
The first -- a solo shot off Nathan Eovaldi -- tied the score 1-1 in the third. The second -- a three-run shot off Rays reliever Hoby Milner -- came in the seventh and put the Marlins up for good.
“It was like a little birthday gift to myself,” said Dietrich, who turned 29 on Wednesday. “I even worked out on my birthday.”
The win was the third straight for the Marlins, who received a strong outing from starting pitcher Dan Straily.
After giving up a quick run in the first, Straily (4-4) shut down the Rays the rest of the way. He didn’t allow another run and only two more hits before coming out after the seventh.
Straily has come on strong in July, allowing only seven runs -- including just one home run -- in 26 total innings. On Friday, Straily and Eovaldi hooked up in a pitching dual that endured through six innings.
“I think it has to do with mixing in a different version of a fastball that’s been helping out,” Straily said. “It’s like a two-seam, but it doesn’t really move like a two-seam. I hold it like a two-seam, but for some reason guys hit it on the ground. I look at a data on it, and it’s not a two-seam, and it’s not a four-seam, either. It does not move like a traditional two-seam. It’s just a better commanded fastball, I guess.”
But after Eovaldi left, the wheels came off for the Rays when reliever Diego Castillo issued a pair of one-out walks to Garrett Cooper and Cameron Maybin. Rays manager Kevin Cash brought in the lefty Milner to face Dietrich, and the matchup backfired when Dietrich lofted a fly ball to right that just made it over the wall.
Eight of Dietrich’s 13 home runs this season have either been game-tying or go-ahead shots, and he had one of each on Friday.
The Marlins scored twice more in the seventh when Adeiny Hechavarria and Daniel Robertson both kicked the ball on the same play after J.T. Realmuto doubled off the wall. The second kick sent the ball into the Marlins’ dugout, enabling two runs to score.
“That was funky,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. “That was a nice little couple of runs.”
But even a 6-1 lead going into the ninth nearly wasn’t good enough for the Marlins, who had already blown one five-run lead in the ninth this season. The Rays came up with four runs off Javy Guerra and Drew Steckenrider and had the tying run on first before Adam Conley recorded the final out to preserve the win and his first career save.
Conley struck out Robertson to end it.
“It’s definitely not how you draw it up, but happy to get it done,” Conley said.
Marlins closer Kyle Barraclough was unavailable due to illness. Mattingly said Barraclough was dealing with an upset stomach and didn’t stay for Friday’s game. He was sent back to the team hotel.