Morgan stifles Marlins, Phillies hold on for series win
By Joe Frisaro and Glenn Sattell
MIAMI -- Games are starting to run out on the Marlins' playoff chances, and the Phillies are thoroughly happy to take on the role of spoiler as they develop their own young talent. On Tuesday night, left-hander Adam Morgan kept Miami off stride, allowing one run in six innings, and Philadelphia held on for a 4-3 victory at Marlins Park.
Odubel Herrera had two hits, reached four times and scored three runs for the Phillies, who have taken the first two games of the series, while the Marlins dropped their fifth straight and 10 of 11. With 23 games remaining, the Marlins are struggling to stay in reach of the second National League Wild Card spot, falling to six games behind St. Louis.
"A big part of it is catching a team when they're scuffling," said Phillies manager Pete Mackanin. "[The Marlins] have been scuffling, and we took advantage of it. These last two games reminds me of games we were winning early in the season where we'd scuffle, scratch and claw and come out on top."
Morgan had lost nine straight decisions, the longest skid in the Majors this season, and hadn't won since beating the Phillies on May 10. Herrera recorded his 33rd multi-hit game of the season and 18th on the road.
The sluggish Miami offense came to life in the eighth inning. Ichiro Suzuki belted his first career pinch-hit home run, a two-run drive to right off reliever Hector Neris. The Marlins threatened with two on and two out in the inning before Neris struck out Jeff Francoeur. And they threatened again in the ninth, putting runners on first and second with one out against closer Jeanmar Gomez after third baseman Maikel Franco's throwing error. But Gomez ended the threat by striking out Dee Gordon looking.
The Phillies scored twice off Jose Urena in the first inning, on Tommy Joseph's sacrifice fly and Freddy Galvis' RBI single. Herrera had a triple and scored on Joseph's double, making it 3-0 in the third, and Galvis knocked in a run in the fifth.
"This team is grinding it out, it was big," said Morgan, who came into the game getting an average of just 2.67 runs per nine innings of support over his nine-game losing streak -- lowest of any NL starter.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Quick starters: For a team with recent trouble scoring runs, the Phillies wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. They put the first three batters of the game on base, with two of them scoring. Cesar Hernandez and Herrera opened with consecutive singles before Franco drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. Joseph followed with a sacrifice fly, scoring Hernandez, and Galvis sent Herrera home with single to make it 2-0.
"That was huge," Mackanin said of the fast start. "It was nice to jump out to a 2-0 start, and then we added on after that. But we still left 11 men on base. We had opportunities to score more runs and blow it wide open, but we didn't."
Urena was tagged for four runs in five innings.
"Early on, it didn't seem like we had a whole lot going on," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Jose, they got him early. He was out of the zone, and it basically seemed like he was up more today than we'd seen in the last couple of outings. More balls up in the zone, more offspeed up in the zone, more unfavorable counts, things like that."
Ichiro's first career PH HR: In his remarkable career, Ichiro has collected 3,019 big league hits in 9,646 at-bats. On Tuesday night, the 42-year-old celebrated another first. When he connected off Neris in the eighth inning, it was his first career pinch-hit home run. Ichiro's drive over the wall in right field pulled Miami to within 4-3. According to Statcast™, the home run landed a projected 369 feet away with an exit velocity of 97 mph. It also was Ichiro's first home run of the season. Ichiro is now one hit shy of matching Rafael Palmeiro (3,020) for 26th on MLB's all-time list.
"It gives us a little bit of life," Mattingly said. "So that was obviously big for us." More >
Do-it-all: In addition to his contributions at the plate, Herrera made a nice running catch of a long fly ball in center field off the bat of Jeff Francoeur in the second inning that kept the Marlins off the scoreboard. That's because the next batter, J.T. Realmuto, lined what could have been an RBI double. Instead it became just a two-out hit, and Realmuto was left stranded.
"Defense made some awesome plays behind me, helped me minimize the damage," a grateful Morgan said.
Stanton is a hit in return: Three weeks ago, the Marlins feared Stanton would miss the rest of the season due to a left groin strain. On Tuesday, the three-time All-Star was delivering a pinch-hit single in the fifth inning against Morgan. Stanton blistered a drive to left-center. If at full strength, it was the type of hit that he may have considered stretching to a double. But he jogged to first and immediately was replaced by Andino, who pinch-ran.
The Marlins scored a run in the fifth on Hechavarria's RBI single. But a key play was on that single to right, because Xavier Scruggs was thrown out trying to go from first to third as Realmuto scored. So Stanton's hit came with one on, and Miami scored one run on four singles.
"I thought it was coming home, trying to be aggressive," Scruggs said. "In hindsight, it would have been better for me to stay there with Giancarlo coming up. I think he was on deck. So it was probably smarter for me to stay at second there."
"In our minds there, we always want him to play the scoreboard," Mattingly said. "He's got to be 100 percent if he's going to go there. We've got an inning going. You know Giancarlo is up. You've got one run there and one out. You've got a shot with Giancarlo right there to tie the game up."
"Obviously, the ball over the plate, it looked like he stayed with it. He laid off some balls down, really encouraging to see that. It probably makes him feel better that he's going to come back and have that kind of timing." -- Mattingly, on Stanton
"I was trying to get the ball down in the zone, and I did, but they were hitting like perfect shots, finding the holes. When they hit the ball in the hole, a little blooper, they get a hit. You can't control that." -- Urena, on his 32-pitch first inning
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Realmuto's second-inning double extended his hitting streak to seven games, and he's also hit safely in seven straight against the Phillies.
WHAT'S NEXT Phillies:Jeremy Hellickson (10-8, 3.88 ERA) takes the mound on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET to wrap up the series at Marlins Park. The right-hander is looking to shake off his last two outings in which he gave up a combined nine runs over 10 innings.
Marlins: Closing out the series on Wednesday night is right-hander Andrew Cashner (4-11, 5.00), who is still looking for his first win since being dealt to Miami in late July. Cashner is 0-4 with a 5.57 ERA with the Marlins.