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Pirates win, but another catcher injured

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- For the second straight night, a Pittsburgh Pirates catcher "tweaked" his knee, and the latest injury was the only downside to what was a positive performance for the team.

One day after being shut out, the Pirates banged out 14 hits to defeat the Miami Marlins 7-4 on Saturday night at Marlins Park.

The Pirates' bullpen was also impressive, working four scoreless innings. Mark Melancon, who replaced injured Jason Grilli as the team's closer, picked up his fourth save.

Michael McKenry, starting in place of injured catcher Russell Martin, led the Pirates with a career-high four hits. Neil Walker had three hits, including two doubles. McKenry, Walker and Garrett Jones each had two RBI.

But McKenry injured his knee while sliding, and his status going forward is uncertain.

"He had a similar tweak to his knee that Russell had," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Martin, who injured his left knee in a collision at the plate on Wednesday, is expected to return to the lineup on Sunday, but it is not a certainty.

Before the injury, McKenry was a Pirates standout -- and not just because he went 4 for 5.

In the fifth inning, with the Pirates leading 5-4, the Marlins put a runner on third with two outs. Pirates starting pitcher Charlie Morton threw wildly, and the pitch sailed behind Placido Polanco, who was at the plate.

McKenry, though, caught the ball and saved a run.

"That was one of the biggest plays of the game," Hurdle said. "It's the second time he's caught a pitch behind a batter this year, which I don't know how you do that."

With the win, the Pirates gained a game on National League Central-leading St. Louis, which lost to Atlanta. The Cardinals are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Pirates, and the teams meet for a crucial five-game series starting Monday in Pittsburgh.

The Marlins' bullpen, which was brilliant on Friday in producing four shutout innings, gave up a run in the sixth inning on Walker's RBI double off Ryan Webb. Starting Marte, who had singled, scored from first on a hit-and-run play.

The Pirates tacked on their final run in the eighth when Andrew McCutchen used his brilliant speed to produce a triple on a ball that rolled to the corner in left field. He then scored on Pedro Alvarez's single.

The Pirates jumped on Marlins starter Tom Koehler with a three-run first. Consecutive doubles by Marte and Walker to start the game produced the first run.

With two outs, Garrett Jones looped a run-scoring double to left and McKenry singled to left to make it 3-0.

The Marlins got one run back in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Donovan Solano.

The Pirates stretched their lead in the third when Jones drove in a run on an infield single and McKenry stroked a run-scoring single to right.

"It's disappointing," said Koehler (2-6), who allowed nine hits, three walks and five runs in five innings. "We've been on such a great run with starting pitching. But I'm sure (Sunday starter) Jose (Fernandez) will pick it up right where we left on (in Friday's shutout)."

Despite falling behind 5-1, the Marlins came to life with a three-run third against Morton. The run-scoring hits were a double by Giancarlo Stanton that was roped to left, a single by Logan Morrison and a single by Polanco.

Morton (3-2) wasn't especially pleased with allowing four runs in five innings. He didn't walk anyone but allowed nine hits.

"I don't think I had very good command," Morton said. "There were some pitches I'd love to have back. My stuff was average."

NOTES: The Marlins announced that RHP Kevin Slowey will go on the disabled list because of a right forearm injury. ... Pirates OF Jose Tabata, who experienced swelling in his right forearm after being hit by a pitch on Wednesday in a game against Washington, was used in the field for the first time since the injury. He came on as a pinch hitter but stayed on to play right field. ... Marlins rookie Jake Marisnick should get a nearly three-month trial in center field after Marcell Ozuna had surgery on his left thumb Friday and is expected to miss the rest of the season. ... Marisnick went 14 at-bats before he got his first big-league hit, which came on a single up the middle on Friday night. His skid is the longest to start a career in Marlins history. ... Grilli, who has a flexor strain in his right arm, will not need surgery and should return within four to eight weeks. ... Marlins OF Chris Coghlan, who is on the disabled list because of nerve irritation in his calf, took batting practice for the first time since the injury on Friday. He is expected to return to the big leagues in about a month. ... The Pirates, who were shut out for the seventh time this season on Friday, are reportedly interested in acquiring a hitter before Wednesday's trade deadline. They rank 13th in the NL in runs scored. Given the Grilli situation, the Pirates are also looking for bullpen help.
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