PITTSBURGH (CBSMiami/AP) – It would be hard for any pitcher to match Jose Fernandez’s previous two outings and in his third start, even he couldn’t come close to the previous performances.
Fernandez needed 101 pitches to get through five innings on Thursday, and Russell Martin’s pinch-hit single with two outs in the 10th inning lifted the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Marlins 5-4 for their fifth straight win.
Miami dropped its fifth straight game and lost a 4-0 lead. Fernandez allowed up two runs and five hits with four walks and five strikeouts.
“Honestly I was nervous really from about the second inning on because I knew he didn’t have his great stuff and you could see he was really having to work hard out there to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said.
“Not that they hit him hard — because they didn’t — but you could just see he was having to throw a lot of pitches to finish guys and they did a good job of that, of kind of battling him,” he said.
In his last two outings, the Miami Marlins’ 21-year-old right-hander struck out 13 Pittsburgh Pirates on July 13 to set the franchise rookie record. Five days later, Fernandez had 14 strikeouts against the Cleveland Indians.
Thursday didn’t bear much resemblance to those, even though Fernandez left the game with a 4-2 lead.
“It was a tough one today for sure, no doubt,” Fernandez said. “I threw a lot of pitches. There was a lot of work out there. We played a good game — they came out on top but we played a good game and I gave my team a chance to win, so that’s what I care about.”
Martin delivered his fourth game-ending hit at PNC Park this year for the NL Central leaders.
The Pirates swept the three-game series and improved to 70-44, the best record in the majors.
“We’re like the Miami Heat,” Pittsburgh star center fielder Andrew McCutchen said. “We play better in the second half of games.”
Pittsburgh has had 20 consecutive losing seasons, a major North American professional sports record. The Marlins entered the National League as an expansion franchise the year the Pirates’ streak began and has won two World Series in that span.
“It’s been so much fun,” Pirates second baseman Neil Walker said. “It seems like it’s somebody different every day that’s been the hero.”
Josh Harrison opened the 10th with a single off Steve Ames (0-1) and took second on Clint Barmes’ sacrifice bunt. After Jose Tabata bounced out and Starling Marte was intentionally walked, Martin batted for Jared Hughes (2-2) and grounded a single down the left-field line.
It was the Pirates’ 28th comeback win.
Walker had three hits and two RBIs for Pittsburgh and Marte had two hits. McCutchen was scratched from the starting lineup because of discomfort in his right shoulder, but singled as a pinch-hitter in the seventh.
Marlins rookie left fielder Christian Yelich had three hits, including his first major league homer. His two-run shot in the fifth inning off Gerrit Cole gave the Marlins a 4-0 lead.
“You’ve had a few at bats now and you know you’re waiting for it to come” Yelich said, “but it’s one of those things that you can’t force it and start pressing for it because if you do that it can take you out of your game and it snowballs on you real quick. It was nice to get that first one but it would have felt a little better if we could have come up with a W.”
Like Fernandez, Cole lasted only five innings. The rookie allowed four runs on six hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
Four Pirates relievers then combined for five scoreless innings.
The Pirates tied the score at 4 in the seventh on sacrifice flies by Walker and pinch-hitter Gaby Sanchez. They had drawn within 4-2 in the fifth on consecutive RBI singles by Walker and Pedro Alvarez.
Miami built a 4-0 lead by scoring twice in the first and fifth innings. Giancarlo Stanton drove in the game’s first run with a double and scored on Placido Polanco’s single, then Yelich hit his home run in the fifth.
Yelich ran his hitting streak to eight games and is 14-for-33 (.424) during that span.
“When he gets comfortable and really locked in and feeling good, I think we’re really going to see some kind of player,” Redmond said. “He gives you everything he’s got out there and he’s fun to watch. I feel like every time he’s up there, he’s got a chance to do something.”
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