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Marlins score enough to win

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- The Miami Marlins' bats were ceremonially blessed before Sunday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the bullpen had to feel pretty fortunate, too, especially after the way the event ended.

"Tony Perez came out before the game and touched all the bats," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said in reference to the Hall of Famer, a star hitter in his day who now works in the Marlins' front office. "So I felt good about that, and we got two runs."

Indeed, the Marlins, last in the major leagues in runs scored, ended a long offensive drought and held on to beat the Diamondbacks, 2-1, Sunday afternoon.

But all the good work that the Marlins had done to build a 2-0 lead was nearly squandered in the ninth, when Arizona was just a ball away from tying the score.

The win went to Ricky Nolasco (3-5), who pitched eight-plus innings, striking out 10. He threw 110 pitches and allowed just four singles, one double, one walk and one run. His 10 strikeouts were the most by Nolasco since he punched out 11 Nationals on May 6, 2011.

Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said Nolasco's off-speed stuff was most effective.

"He got us to swing and miss with his curve," Gibson said. "He had a good slider and a good split, and we weren't able to make adjustments. He spotted his fastball, used that minimally. But he threw all his pitches for strikes."

Redmond said he wanted Nolasco to end the game, but he felt forced to remove him after Nolasco allowed Didi Gregorius' double to lead off the ninth.

Closer Steve Cishek came in to try to earn his sixth save of the season, getting a dazzling defensive play by rookie second baseman Derek Dietrich, whose backhand stop and throw created the first out of the inning.

Cishek allowed a sacrifice fly to Jason Kubel. The run was charged to Nolasco. With runners on first and second, Cishek was lifted for left-hander Mike Dunn against lefty-swinging Miguel Montero. The latter won the battle, drawing a walk to load the bases.

Pinch-hitter A.J. Pollock, a righty swinger, then grounded out to shortstop on a 3-2 count. Dunn got his first save of the season, winning that eight-pitch battle with Pollock.

"I was calm," Nolasco said when asked about his emotions while watching the precarious ninth inning. "Bend but don't break -- we got that last out."

Before an announced crowd of 20,206 at Marlins Park, Miami was able to snap its seven-game losing streak. The Marlins also broke the D-backs' four-game win streak.

The Marlins had suffered through 14 consecutive scoreless innings until plating two runs in Sunday's sixth.

The rally was created by three youngsters under the age of 25. Adeiny Hechavarria stroked a one-out single up the middle. He motored to third on Dietrich's single to right, and both men scored on Marcell Ozuna's double off the fence in left field. The shot missed becoming a home run by a couple of feet.

"Pressure doesn't seem to bother Ozuna," Redmond said. "Early in the game, he was aggressive, swinging early in the count. We talked to him about trying to work counts, get deeper in the count and getting a better pitch to hit.

"That (double) was a great at-bat. He got a good pitch, up in the zone, and made him pay."

Ozuna's hit was something Miami needed badly. The Marlins have been shut out eight times this season, the highest mark in the big leagues. In their past 11 games entering Sunday, the Marlins had scored a total of just 17 runs.

It looked like another shutout was on the way as Arizona starter Wade Miley breezed through his first five innings unscathed. He pitched around one-out doubles by Jeff Mathis in the third and Chris Coghlan in the fifth before the Marlins finally got to him.

Miley (3-3) went six innings, allowing five hits, one walk and two runs. He struck out six.

"(Ozuna) capitalized on my mistake," Miley said of the fateful pitch that caught too much of the plate.

Still, Miley sounded upbeat.

"This team never gives up," Miley said. "We kept battling to the end."

NOTES: The last player to hit a first-pitch homer in a nine-inning in a 1-0 game was Pete Rose, who did it for the 1963 Cincinnati Reds against the New York Mets' Jay Hook. ... Gerardo Parra, who hit Saturday's first-pitch homer for Arizona, didn't know much about Marlins' rookie starter Tom Koehler, so he asked hitting coach Don Baylor for advice. Baylor told him to swing first pitch, and Parra connected on a 94 mph fastball down the middle. ... The Marlins could have three major-league first basemen on rehab assignments at Class A Jupiter this week -- Logan Morrison, Joe Mahoney and Casey Kotchman.

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