MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Marlins on the brink of returning to .500 thanks to a clutch hit from Marcell Ozuna, a sight that’s becoming familiar to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Ozuna looks to continue his success against the Diamondbacks on Friday night as the Marlins go for a sixth win in their last eight games.
Ozuna is hitting .256 with 16 homers, 60 RBIs and 52 runs in his first full season in the majors with Miami (60-61).
The center fielder broke out of a 4-for-39 slump with two hits Thursday, connecting for a walkoff double in a 5-4 win over Arizona (52-69) in the opener of this four-game set.
“This guy is a huge part of our team,” manager Mike Redmond said. “And he’s had some big at-bats and he’s gotten some big hits for us throughout the year.”
Thursday’s win was the Marlins’ major league-leading 10th walkoff victory, and it wasn’t the first time Ozuna came through in a big situation against the Diamondbacks. He’s 7 for 15 with three doubles and three RBIs in four games versus Arizona this season, and had a two-run homer in the ninth of a 2-1 win at Arizona on July 8.
The Marlins are looking for Brad Hand (2-4, 4.65 ERA) to bounce back from an ugly outing after a promising start to the second half.
The left-hander exited with two outs in the fifth Sunday at Cincinnati after giving up five runs in the inning – seven overall – with a grand slam providing the final blow in a 7-2 loss. That was a tremendous departure after he went 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA and didn’t allow a homer in his four previous starts.
“You’ve got to limit the big innings, and get out of there,” Hand said. “I had a chance to get out of there with no runs, and I couldn’t finish it.”
Hand did his part before Ozuna’s heroics at Arizona in July, yielding an unearned run and scattering eight hits in 6 1-3 innings.
The Diamondbacks have dropped eight of 12 games behind a .232 average, but Mark Trumbo is 13 for 36 (.361) with 11 RBIs in his last 10. He had two hits and plated two runs in the series opener, improving to 6 for 13 in three meetings with the Marlins.
Trevor Cahill (2-8, 4.86) is trying to build on his first winning start of the season. The right-hander allowed three runs in the first three innings Saturday, but settled down to toss four scoreless and finish with seven strikeouts in a 14-4 win over Colorado.
“I was frustrated the first couple innings,” Cahill told MLB’s official website. “I got ahead of some guys and then couldn’t put them away. … But after that I was able to kind of settle down.”
Cahill allowed one run over eight innings in his only outing at Miami, a 9-2 win on May 17, 2013.
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