Giancarlo Stanton’s home run off Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole in the bottom of the sixth inning in Miami on Sunday afternoon made the difference in a fine pitchers’ duel, and gave the Marlins both a 3-2 victory and a 2-games-to-one win in their three-game home series with the Pirates (61-42).
Stanton’s blast was his second of the series and his 15th of the season. The Marlins (40-63), who still hold the National League’s worst record but are eight games above .500 since June 1, also received scoring from an RBI single by Ed Lucas and a sacrifice fly by Donovan Solano.
Meanwhile, Miami starter Jose Fernandez (7-5; 2.71 ERA) set a team rookie record with 13 strikeouts, and allowed only two runs and five hits over eight innings. Steve Cishek recorded his 22nd save.
For Pittsburgh, who outhit their opponents 6-4, the only runs came in the top of the second inning on a Pedro Alvarez single, an RBI double by Russell Martin and a run-scoring single by Clint Barmes. Martin went 2-for-4. Rookie Cole (5-4; 3.56 ERA) took the loss, although he surrendered just three runs and four hits while striking out a career-high eight hitters and walking two in seven innings of work.
Pittsburgh lone win in the series in Miami came in a 7-4 final on Saturday night. Michael McKenry went 4-for-5, and Neil Walker recorded three of the Pirates’ 14 hits. Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen tallied two hits apiece. Stanton and Logan Morrison both contributed three of the Marlins’ 11 base hits.
RBI doubles by Walker and Garrett Jones, and a run-scoring single by McKenry gave the Bucs a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Solano made the score 3-1 by singling home a run in the bottom of the same frame. Jones scored Walker with one RBI single in the third frame, and McKenry plated Alvarez with another, lifting Pittsburgh’s lead to 5-1. Stanton’s RBI double, and scoring singles by Morrison and Placido Polanco cut the advantage to 5-4 in the same frame. Walker doubled home Marte in the sixth inning, and Alvarez drove home McCutchen with a single in the eighth.
Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton (3-2; 3.59 ERA) lasted only five innings, but recorded the win. Mark Melancon earned his fourth save. Miami starter Tom Koehler (2-6; 4.67 ERA) also worked just five innings, and sustained the loss.
The Marlins won Friday night’s series opener 2-0 on a pinch-hit RBI single by Polanco in the sixth inning and a homer by Stanton in the seventh. Miami starter Henderson Alvarez (1-1; 2.64 ERA) earned his first Major League victory, throwing two-hit ball over six innings. Cishek recorded the save. The Marlins outhit the Pirates 8-5 with Stanton going 2-for-2 with the homer and two walks. Bucs rookie Jeff Locke (9-3; 2.15 ERA) could not record his tenth win of the season, allowing two runs and eight hits, striking out nine batters and walking six over six-and-two-thirds innings, and taking the loss.
In the series, Stanton went 7-for-9 with two homers, three RBIs and four walks, reaching base in 11 of his 13 plate appearances.
Trailing St. Louis (62-20) by a game-and-a-half in the National League Central Division, Pittsburgh returns home to face the Cards in a five-game series spanning four days, starting Monday night at PNC Park. In the series opener, the Bucs leader in wins, Francisco Liriano (10-4; 2.23 ERA) is scheduled to face the Cardinals’ Jake Westbrook (7-4; 2.95 ERA). The series also includes a twi-night doubleheader on Tuesday.