MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Marlins returned home after a seven-game road trip looking to continue making ground in both their division and in the National League Wild Card race. The Pittsburgh Pirates had other plans though, taking down the Marlins 8-6 in thirteen innings.
Pirates rookie Gregory Polanco’s first career home run in the majors would prove to be the difference in the game. With Clint Barmes on second after a single and a sacrifice, Polanco, playing in just his fourth MLB game, connected with a Mike Dunn slider and sent it over the wall in one of the deepest parts of Marlins Park.
Polanco came into the game with just three hits in fourteen at bats but broke out in a big way. He finished the game with five hits and two RBI’s, scoring three runs as well.
The loss is a tough one for the Marlins to take after making a thrilling comeback in ninth inning to send the game to extras.
Trailing by four runs in the ninth, Miami took advantage of some erratic pitching by the Pirates to come all the way back and tie the game at six. Pittsburgh walked six Marlins batters in the inning, the last of which to Casey McGehee sent the tying run across the plate.
The Marlins one hit of the ninth inning was a big one as Reed Johnson singled with the bases loaded and two outs to draw Miami within one run of the Pirates. The Marlins sent ten hitters to the plate which is pretty remarkable considering just the one hit.
After three Pittsburgh relievers blew the four run lead in the ninth, Jeanmar Gomez threw four scoreless innings to pick up his first win of the season.
The Pirates got the jump on Marlins starter Nathan Eovaldi in the first inning. After a leadoff single by Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh got on the scoreboard with a long homerun to left field off the bat of Starling Marte. Eovaldi gave up two more singles following the homer but a double play and a fly ball got him out of the inning.
Marte had one of his best hitting games of the season, picking up four hits for just the second time in 2014 and adding a pair of RBI’s while scoring three runs.
Rafael Furcal made his Marlins debut on Friday night after being on the disabled list all season suffering from a left hamstring strain and a strained right groin.
Furcal, batting leadoff for Miami, struck out swinging in his first plate appearance. It was his first major league at bat in 652 days. It was a rough night at the plate for the Marlins second baseman, going hitless in six at bats, though he did walk in the ninth inning and scored the tying run for Miami.
Christian Yelich got the start in left field for the Marlins but strained his back running to first when he grounded out in the first inning. When Miami took the field following the bottom of the first, Reed Johnson emerged from the dugout and headed out to left.
The Marlins manufactured their first run in a second inning that saw a couple of baserunning blunders. Marcel Ozuna hit a one out double to right-center but was caught in a rundown when Jeff Baker hit a grounder to short. Ozuna kept the rundown going long enough to advance the runner to second base but Baker didn’t take the chance and remained at first.
Fortunately for Miami the point became moot when a couple of back-to-back singles by Adeiny Hechavarria and Jeff Mathis got Baker home to score the first run of the game for the Marlins.
Pittsburgh extended their lead in the fifth inning with an Ike Davis 2-run double off Eovaldi. Miami brought in Dan Jennings hoping to stop the bleeding but after a four-pitch walk to Pedro Alvarez, Jordy Mercer hit a single that went off Furcal’s glove allowing another run to score, giving the Pirates a 6-2 lead.
Eovaldi lasted just four and 2/3 innings allowing six runs on ten hits, both matching the most he had given up in any start this season.
Pirates starter Jeff Locke pitched his second solid game in a row after giving up just one run off three hits in seven innings last week against Milwaukee. He was just as good against the Marlins on Friday, going eight innings and giving up two runs while striking out seven.
Giancarlo Stanton crushed his NL-leading 18th home run of the season to right center in the third inning. He added a double late in the game and finished with three hits.
The Marlins and Pirates are right back at it on Saturday afternoon. Miami will send Randy Wolf (1-2, 4.15 ERA) to the mound and Pittsburgh will counter with Charlie Morton (3-7, 3.14 ERA).