Miami Marlins

Jose Ureña finally breaks home drought as Marlins split series with the Nationals

Marlins pitcher Jose Ureña finally gets a win at home

Marlins pitcher Jose Ureña gets first home win of the season as Miami beats the Washington Nationals 5-0 on Sunday.
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Marlins pitcher Jose Ureña gets first home win of the season as Miami beats the Washington Nationals 5-0 on Sunday.

Home hasn’t been sweet for Jose Ureña over the past year.

That finally changed Sunday afternoon.

Ureña tossed six shutout innings and allowed only one hit while getting the Marlins started at the plate during a 5-0 shutout of the Washington Nationals in front of 12,112 at Marlins Park. The Marlins drew 33,188 over their past three games - a season-high on weekends without special promotions such as the team’s 25th anniversary or Opening Weekend.

Four months to the day since Ureña started for the Marlins on Opening Day, he picked up his first victory at Marlins Park since Sept. 20, 2017. Ureña had not won at home in 13 previous home starts and gone 0-8 over that span with a 4.65 ERA.

“We talked about attacking the hitters and they had noticed I wasn’t doing that with my pitches [recently],” said Ureña, whose teammates gave him the team’s new ‘MVP chain’ after the win.

The Marlins (46-61) also secured back-to-back wins over the Nationals for the first time since Aug. 1-2, 2017.

Ureña entered the game with the lowest run support average of any starter in the majors this season entering the game (2.72 runs per game). He produced the Marlins’ first in the second inning when he singled with two outs to drive in Miguel Rojas.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly said the key was Ureña being more aggressive with hitters and attacking the strike zone - something they hadn’t seen a lot from him since he returned from the disabled list with a right shoulder impingement on July 4.

“It looked like he had good stuff again today and was aggressive and looked like the old Jose again out there,” Mattingly said. “We just talked about making sure he was healthy. Once we knew that, we wanted to make sure he stayed on the aggressive side out there.”

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Martin Prado exchange fives with teammate Magneuris Sierra, right, as he scores 1 of the 3 runs as the Marlins bats got hot at the bottom of the 5th inning during the Marlins vs National baseball game inside Marlins Park, Miami, Florida on Sunday, July 29, 2018. CARL JUSTE CJUSTE@MIAMIHERALD.COM

All five Marlins’ runs came with two outs.

Martin Prado continued his productive return from the disabled list with two of those hits, one of which was a double in the third inning and a single in the fifth when the Marlins scored three runs to knock out Nationals starter Jeremy Hellickson.

Prado slashed only .194/.242/.226 after returning from the disabled list with a hamstring injury earlier this season. Since returning on July 5, Prado is slashing .323/.354/.435 with a home run, five doubles and 10 RBI.

Marlins third baseman Martin Prado talks about getting his rhythm back at the plate since returning from injury.

“I missed spring training basically the first time,” Prado said. “The first time I came back was like my spring training. it was just about getting my mechanics back. I just needed to worry about putting good at-bats and when we do that as a team, good things happen.”

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Marlins Martin Prado connects and helped the Marlins with one of the three runs at the bottom of the 5th inning during the Marlins vs National baseball game inside Marlins Park, Miami, Florida on Sunday, July 29, 2018. CARL JUSTE CJUSTE@MIAMIHERALD.COM

The Marlins’ bullpen would yield only one more hit when Juan Soto singled off Drew Steckenrider in the ninth, but preserve the team’s ninth shutout of the season.

Brad Ziegler continued his fantastic work since switching back into a setup role. Ziegler recorded a perfect eighth inning with two strikeouts. He entered the game with a 0.67 ERA in his previous 27 appearances (27 innings) with 20 strikeouts, 11 walks, 14 hits and only two runs allowed. Ziegler has 11 holds and a save during that span, which has put him in high demand among other clubs before the upcoming trade deadline.

VALUABLE BACKUP

The Marlins initially were going to give their ‘MVP of the game’ chain to J.T. Realmuto after he delivered the walk-off single in Saturday’s victory. But Realmuto deferred the honor to backup catcher Bryan Holaday, who caught the entire game.

Despite playing in only 42 games, Holaday is one of baseball’s top defensive catchers this season. Earlier this season, Holaday set a franchise record with nine consecutive runners caught stealing.

Holaday leads all major-league catchers in caught stealing percentage (53.3 percent) and has thrown out 16 runners, which ranks third overall behind Oakland’s Jonathan Lucroy and Philadelphia’s Jorge Alfaro.

Holaday is hitting only .174 with one home run and 12 RBI, but has shown his value in other ways with his ability to manage the Marlins’ young pitching staff on days where the Marlins give J.T. Realmuto rest.

Starting pitcher Trevor Richards gave major credit to his third consecutive quality start to Holaday calling a great game behind the plate.

“That role probably doesn’t get the attention it deserves,” Mattingly said. “That trust for the pitcher is so important. Both catchers, you want them to be that guy, but especially the backup. The day you put him in you want a guy that can play good defense be able to call a game, handle the staff. It’s hard to expect offense from that guy because he just isn’t getting the reps, so you definitely have to be able to do that as a backup.”

Tayron Guerrero will pitch one more rehab outing on Monday at Triple A New Orleans. Mattingly said Guerrero could be activated at some point during the upcoming road trip to Atlanta (Monday-Wednesday) and Philadelphia (Friday-Sunday).

COMING UP

Monday: Miami Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (3-7, 5.65 ERA) vs. Atlanta Braves RHP Julio Teheran (7-7, 4.42), 7:35 p.m., SunTrust Park.

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