By Joe Frisaro and George Von Benko
MLB.com |@JoeFrisaro |
PITTSBURGH -- From spot starter to staple in the rotation. That's what the Marlins are asking of Jose Urena, and the right-hander came through with a composed six strong innings that set the tone in a 3-2 Miami win over the Pirates on Sunday at PNC Park.
Christian Yelich knocked a first-inning home run off Ryan Vogelsong, and the Marlins were able to complete a three-game sweep that puts them 1 1/2 games ahead of Pittsburgh in the National League Wild Card race. After recording its first sweep at Pittsburgh since 2011, Miami remains 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals for the second Wild Card spot.
"Today, Urena shows up and keeps them down and gives us a chance to win," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Overall, we just came in and played. Made some mistakes and got away with them. I actually thought we played with good energy the whole series."
In the sixth inning, the Marlins capitalized on a throwing error by shortstop Sean Rodriguez and scored twice. Martin Prado had an RBI groundout and Dee Gordon, who reached on a bunt single, scored on a wild pitch.
Vogelsong gave up three runs, but just one was earned. His wild pitch in the fifth inning allowed Gordon to race home as the go-ahead run.
"Vogelsong mixed his pitches well today," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "The cutter played, he used the changeup in fastball counts. I thought he pitched a very blue-collar effort."
The Pirates claimed a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning. Andrew McCutchen led off with a single and Gregory Polanco doubled high off the wall in right. McCutchen scored on David Freese's grounder to third that was booted by Prado for his first of two errors in the inning, and Josh Bell added a sacrifice fly to left.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Urena securing rotation spot: Miami's rotation depth took a hit when Adam Conley went on the disabled list with a left-hand injury earlier this month. Urena was called up from Triple-A New Orleans to take over Conley's spot, and the right-hander is showing signs that he can secure it. Urena has bounced back since a rough first inning (giving up five runs) at Cincinnati last Tuesday by allowing two runs in his last 11 frames. The Pirates got to Urena twice in the fourth, but it was their only inning having their first two runners reach. Urena got defensive help to escape the sixth. In left field, Yelich threw out Bell trying to stretch a single into a double, ending the inning.
"When a game like that happens, I don't think about those games," Urena said. "That's a different game and different day, too. You're seeing different hitters." More >
Bell ringer: Bell, making his first Major League start at first base, hit a sacrifice fly to left plating Polanco and giving the Pirates a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning. He singled to left in sixth, but he was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double. More >
Vogelsong strong: Making his fourth start since coming off the 60-day disabled list, Vogelsong gave the Pirates a quality start. He tossed six innings, allowing three runs (one earned) on three hits. He has pitched at least six innings in his eight career starts against the Marlins. More >
Yelich in Pittsburgh: PNC Park seems to bring out the power in Yelich. For the second time in the series, the Marlins' left fielder hit a home run. Yelich's power is starting to emerge, as he has a career-high 15 homers this season. In his career, he has 35 total, but five have been at Pittsburgh, in 12 total games. According to Statcast™, Yelich's towering shot to center on Sunday projected at 406 feet from home plate with an exit velocity of 103 mph and a launch angle of 36 degrees. Yelich, of course, has hit most of his home runs at Marlins Park (10) but in 218 games. PNC Park and Nationals Park are tied with five, but Yelich has played 24 games at Washington.
Yelich's homer was the only earned run the Marlins scored. In the ninth inning, they were unable to add on a run after loading the bases with one out.
"I kind of wished we would have been able to score in the top of the ninth," Mattingly said. "You leave a run there, and you never know if that's going to come back and hurt you."
"It's the perfect snapshot of the game. You go on the road and you play the way you play, and you come home and you're in two games late. Actually, you're in all three games, and you come up short. That's why we always encourage our guys, you're never as good as you think you are, and you're never as bad as you think you are. We'll start again tomorrow." -- Hurdle
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Fernando Rodney recorded a save for the third straight day, remaining in the closer role even with All-Star A.J. Ramos (finger) back from the disabled list. Ramos pitched the eighth, while Rodney, for now, handled the closer's spot. More >
The Marlins were the beneficiaries of a replay change. With two on in the ninth inning, Miami challenged a ball-three call by reliever Juan Nicasio on Miguel Rojas. The Marlins felt the ball hit Rojas, and after a review of 35 seconds, the call was overturned, with Rojas awarded first base.
WHAT'S NEXT Marlins: Off on Monday, the Marlins open a three-game series with the defending World Series champion Royals at 7:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Marlins Park. Andrew Cashner (4-9, 4.92 ERA) gets the start for Miami. Yordano Ventura (8-9, 4.46 ERA) goes for Kansas City.
Pirates: Pittsburgh opens a three-game series at 7:05 p.m. ET on Monday at PNC Park for an Interleague matchup with the Astros. Right-hander Jameson Taillon (3-2, 3.00 ERA) gets the start for Pittsburgh. The Astros will counter with right-hander Doug Fister (11-8, 3.76 ERA).