Andino's clutch hit lifts rallying Marlins vs. Bucs
By Joe Frisaro and George Von Benko
PITTSBURGH -- In search of a spark, the Marlins found it on Friday night in a veteran who had not appeared in the big leagues since 2013. Robert Andino, recently called up from Triple-A New Orleans, made his first start in left field and came through with an RBI single in the ninth inning that lifted Miami to a 6-5 win over the Pirates at PNC Park.
But the comeback win for Miami wasn't secured without some drama in the bottom half of the ninth. After the Pirates loaded the bases with one out against Fernando Rodney, Andrew McCutchen bounced a ball to Martin Prado, who stepped on third and completed the game-ending double play at first.
"It's a big win for us. We kind of reeled a little bit in Cincinnati," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said, noting how his club dropped three of four to the Reds. "Getting the win was good for us. Any time you get a win now is momentum until the next time."
With the Cardinals rallying to beat the Phillies, 4-3, in 11 innings on Friday, the Pirates sit two games back for the second National League Wild Card spot, while Miami is at 2 1/2 games.
The Marlins prevailed in the ninth when the decision to intentionally walk Starling Marte set up McCutchen's game-ending grounder.
"You never know what works, but at least we get a force," Mattingly said. "If he gets the ball on the ground, we have a chance to get two."
Andino also made a big defensive play in the eighth, throwing out Jung Ho Kang trying to stretch a single into a double. Along with Andino, Christian Yelich had a home run and two RBIs as the Marlins snapped their three-game losing skid and Pittsburgh's four-game winning streak.
"Anything to gain the trust of these guys," said Andino, back for the first time in the Majors since he was with the Mariners three years ago. "I'm new up here. They've been here all year. We're kind of in the race. Whatever I can do to contribute."
The back-and-forth game swung in the Pirates' favor in the seventh, when they scored three unearned runs off Dustin McGowan, who committed a throwing error that opened the door. Josh Harrison had a sacrifice fly off Kyle Barraclough and Marte delivered an RBI double, making it 5-3.
But Miami responded with two runs in the eighth inning. Miguel Rojas homered and Yelich had a game-tying single.
Miami had grabbed a 3-2 lead in the seventh on Yelich's two-out, opposite-field home run off Gerrit Cole. It's not the first time Yelich has gotten Cole. On Aug. 8, 2013, Yelich's first career homer came off the Pirates' right-hander, also at PNC.
"It was a pretty darn good pitch," Cole said. "I think he's a pretty good player. It's not the first time he's taken me out opposite that way. He's got a lot of talent, and it takes a good swing to hit the ball out that way, so that's what he did."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Koehler remains consistent: Mattingly has repeatedly said Tom Koehler has been his club's most effective pitcher in the second half. It's hard to argue, and Friday was another example of how the right-hander has stepped up. In six innings, he gave up two runs on eight hits, but with his pitch count at 95, he exited with a 3-2 lead that the bullpen didn't hold. Still, in his six starts since July 21, Koehler has an ERA of 1.62 in 39 innings.
"Today was a game we just needed to win," Koehler said. "It didn't matter how it got done. There were a lot of chances for us to have folded tonight and just give up. We didn't do that. I think that speaks to everybody in this clubhouse. We have a lot of baseball left. Things may not have gone the way we wanted them to go over the last few weeks, but when we win games like this, it just reaffirms what we believe, that we can do this. We just have to keep plugging away."
Houdini: Already trailing 1-0, Cole escaped unscathed in the fourth inning. After giving up a single to J.T. Realmuto and a walk to Xavier Scruggs, Andino singled to left, but Marte threw Realmuto out at the plate for the first out. Cole then struck out Rojas and Koehler to end the threat. Defense saved Cole again in the sixth. Gregory Polanco threw out Scruggs at the plate to preserve a tie. More >
Freese Frame:David Freese continued his timely hitting for the Pirates with a two-out, two-run shot off Koehler in the fourth inning, putting the Pirates on top, 2-1, at the time. It was the 12th home run of the season for Freese.
Prado keeps coming through: Not only is Prado the Marlins' team leader and unofficial captain, the veteran third baseman also has been among the team's hottest hitters. His RBI single with two outs in the third inning put Miami on the board and extended his hitting streak to eight games. Prado has also driven in eight runs in that stretch. His single off the wall in right scored Rojas.
"I think every single person who stepped on the field today contributed. That's huge. That's what it's going to take. Gone are the days where we're looking for guys to go eight or nine shutout, or whatever it is. It's about finding a way to keep the team in it." -- Koehler, on the Marlins finding a way
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Pirates have homered in a season-high-tying seven straight games.
WHAT'S NEXT Marlins: Transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation has gone smoothly for David Phelps (6-6, 2.48 ERA). He gets the nod at 7:05 p.m. ET on Saturday at PNC Park. In three starts, he is 1-1 with a 1.84 ERA.
Pirates: Rookie right-hander Chad Kuhl (3-0, 3.73 ERA) will start the second game of the series on Saturday night. The Pirates have been victorious in each of his first six starts. Kuhl has allowed just four runs in his last three outings. It's his first career start against the Marlins.