Marlins 6, Pirates 3
Gonzalez hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning Tuesday night that led the Marlins to a 6-3 victory, halting Pittsburgh’s longest winning streak since the Pirates won 11 in a row from Sept. 12-22, 1996.
“It’s going to happen. That’s baseball,” Pirates catcher Jason Kendall said. “This one’s over with. We’ll start another one tomorrow.”
The defending World Series champions won for just the second time in seven games and avoided dropping to .500. Florida picked up a game in the standings, moving two back of the Phillies in the NL East.
“That was a big win,” Marlins leadoff man Juan Pierre said. “It would be nice to get on a streak, but I don’t know if any of the teams in our division are going to do that. The way it looks now, it’s going to be a dogfight right down to the finish line.”
NL Rookie of the Year Dontrelle Willis remained winless in four starts since June 13 despite allowing just one run and five hits in six innings.
Willis left with a 2-1 lead, but Jack Wilson hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh off Josias Manzanillo and pinch-hitter Rob Mackowiak had an RBI single off the first pitch after Matt Perisho relieved with two outs.
Cabrera was thrown out at third, but Corey walked Mike Lowell and Abraham Nunez. Salomon Torres came in and retired Luis Castillo for the second out of the inning, then allowed Gonzalez’s homer on an 0-2 pitch.
“You make 10 or 15 good pitches, and then one bad one and you pay for it,” Torres said. “It was a hanging slider. I should have buried it in the dirt.”
Gonzalez, who won Game 4 of last year’s World Series against the Yankees with a 12th inning home run against Jeff Weaver, struggled at the plate to start the season, but has improved his average by 44 points since his .198 mark in late May.
“He came through for us again,” Florida manager Jack McKeon said. “Everybody likes to criticize him for not coming through with men on base, but he’s been one of our best hitters in that situation for the last month or so.
“When you look at what he has done over the last month, he has been a key contributor, right up there with Lowell and Cabrera.”
After falling behind 0-2, Gonzalez fouled off four pitches to keep the at-bat alive. Torres then threw a slider that hung out over the plate, and Gonzalez pulled it to left.
“He threw me a couple of good pitches, and I had to battle against him,” Gonzalez said. “We really needed this win. Every team is going to go through slumps, and we’re going through one now, but we have to keep our heads up.”
Josh Fogg started on three days’ rest for the Pirates and allowed two runs and eight hits in five innings.
It was the 27th time in team history that the Pirates had won 10 straight games or more.
“We proved that we can play with just about anybody. Hopefully we can win out until the All-Star break,” Fogg said.
Craig Wilson put the Pirates ahead 1-0 in the fourth with his 17th homer, but Miguel Cabrera had a two-run single in the fifth. That followed a single by Choi, which stopped Florida’s skid with runners in scoring position at0-for-30.
Wilson went 2-for-4 and leads the NL with 117 hits. … The Marlins, outhit 11-9, have not reached double digits in hits in five straight games. … The Pirates have homered in their last six games, hitting a total of nine. … With his 425th walk, Castillo became the Marlins’ career leader, passing Gary Sheffield. … Marlins rookie Josh Willingham made his debut after being calledup from Double-A Carolina. Willingham started in left field and went 0-for-3.