The story of this game was starting pitcher Ivan Nova. The Marlins put together their best scoring opportunity in the first inning when Martin Prado doubled with one out, but a ground out to second base by Christian Yelich and a strike out by Giancarlo Stanton, ended that threat. With rookie second basemen Gift Ngoepe, helping to provide defensive stability, Nova did not allow another hit until Justin Bour singled to left to lead off the fifth inning. This did not result in a scoring opportunity for the Marlins, as Nova struck out Marcell Ozuna, got J.T. Realmuto to ground into a force out and finished the inning with a ground ball back to the mound off the bat of Adeiny Hechavarria.
Following that base hit, the Marlins did not have another hitter reach safely until Ozuna led off the bottom of the eighth with a single to left field. Nova induced a ground ball double play off the bat of Realmuto on the next pitch, that was started by a great diving stop by Josh Harrison. Hechavarria hit a fly ball out to right fielder Danny Ortiz on the very next pitch to allow Nova to get through the eighth inning with just 87 pitches thrown. Nova finished the game with a 1-2-3 ninth inning that included a fly ball to deep center field by Derek Dietrich the pinch hitter, a ground ball back to the mound by Dee Gordon and another ground ball back to the mound to finish it, off the bat of Prado.
This marks Nova’s fifth complete game since joining the Bucs last July. Remarkably, Nova has more complete games (5) than walks (4) in his career with the Pirates.
On the offensive side, the Pirates were able to get the early lead in the second inning with two outs when Jordy Mercer singled to center field to drive in Gregory Polanco. They would not score again until the sixth inning, as the early stages of the game played out as a pitcher’s duel between Nova and Dan Straily of the Marlins. The Pirates added on in the sixth inning of the game when Francisco Cervelli drew a bases loaded walk against Straily to chase him from the ballgame. Brad Ziegler entered the game for the Marlins, and issued the team’s second straight bases loaded walk which finalized the line on Straily with three runs allowed on the night. The Pirates added insurance in the top of the ninth inning when John Jaso hit his first home run of the season against Marlins closer A.J. Ramos. This would conclude all the scoring for the night, as Nova closed out a stress free win for the Pirates in the bottom half of the inning.
With the win, the Pirates improved to 11-12 while the Marlins dropped to 10-12.
The Pirates have now won three straight ballgames, and they go for the sweep of the Marlins tomorrow afternoon with first pitch scheduled for 1:10 ET. Chad Kuhl (6.63 ERA/4.16 FIP) takes the mound to face the Marlins. The Fish send Tom Koehler (5.14 ERA/6.53 FIP) to the mound for the final game of this three-game series. Kuhl will look for a bounce back outing after his worst start of the season in his last time out against the Chicago Cubs.