Hoping for a different outcome from Friday’s seemingly lifeless loss, the Pittsburgh Pirates scored three runs in the first inning to secure a 7-4 victory over the Miami Marlins on Saturday night in South Florida.
Catcher Michael McKenry was the surprise offensive star of the game for the Pirates. He registered a career-best four hits, including a double and two runs batted in. He also showed his toughness. After being shaken up while running the bases, McKenry came out to play the seventh inning, protecting an injured Russell Martin from having to play.
It was clear that he was in pain, especially during his at-bat in the eighth inning when he could not run out of the batter’s box after a ground ball, but still he gutted it out and stayed in the game.
The Pirates (61-41) ended a two-game losing streak with the victory, improving to 29-23 on the road. Since the Cardinals lost to the Braves earlier, Pittsburgh closed to within 1 1/2 games of St. Louis for the lead in the National League Central.
In the first inning, the Pirates got to Marlins starter Tom Koehler quickly as Starling Marte opened the game with a double and the next hitter Neil Walker knocked him in. A Garrett Jones double and McKenry single accounted for the other two runs.
Charlie Morton got the ball for the Pirates and needed 82 pitches to get through five innings. He allowed nine hits and four runs including a three-run third inning for the Marlins. Morton allowed nine hits in total while Marte and Andrew McCutchen had errors. He struck out six and walked none.
The Pirates did support Morton with a two-run third inning, thanks to Jones and McKenry hitting RBI singles.
The Pirates would tack on a sixth run in the sixth when another Walker double off reliever Ryan Webb plated Marte. Then in the eighth inning, Andrew McCutchen aggressively ran out a triple and scored when Pedro Alvarez got a single against Dan Jennings.
Following Morton’s five innings of work, Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris, Tony Watson and Mark Melancon combined to shut out the Marlins offense the rest of the way. Melancon got his fourth save of the season.
The series concludes tomorrow when Gerrit Cole [5-3 3.51] takes the ball for the Pirates against all-star Jose Fernandez [6-5 2.74]. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. from Marlins Park.