Starling Marte powers Pirates past Marlins in testy game
MIAMI — When things became testy between the Pirates and Miami Marlins, Starling Marte kept swinging. And he kept connecting.
If the Pirates sought retribution for an inside fastball that sidelined Josh Harrison, Marte provided it by going 5 for 5, including a ninth-inning homer to cap a 7-3 victory Sunday.
Both teams kept their tempers in check even as two Pirates and one Marlins player were hit by pitches. Harrison left in the third inning after being plunked on the back of the left hand by a 96 mph fastball from Jose Urena.
“I'm a very patient, calm guy,” Marte said through a translator. “It's always tough to lose one of your key players. But we're trying to win. The focus here is to remain focused. That helped us out.”
Marte's five hits were a career high, and his batting average rose from .241 to .305. He scored four times and hit his third homer off Junichi Tazawa.
The surprising Pirates (11-4) improved to 7-0 in day games, completed a 4-2 road trip and head home atop the NL Central.
But they might be without Harrison for a while. The second baseman will undergo further evaluation Monday in Pittsburgh.
Harrison missed the final month of the 2017 season after being hit by a pitch on the same hand. He was hit 23 times last year to rank second in the majors.
“None of them feel good, except for the ones that nick your jersey,” he said. “I'm going to say this one felt pretty bad, too.”
After Harrison's injury, the Pirates' Ivan Nova hit JB Shuck in the hip later that same inning.
“We've got each other's back,” Harrison said. “You never want anybody to get hurt, but we're family here.”
Marlins reliever Odrisamer Despaigne plunked Francisco Cervelli on the left hand in the seventh. Despaigne appeared to apologize as Cervelli trotted to first base, and the Pittsburgh catcher responded with a conciliatory wave.
“We've had a lot of hit batsmen here, for whatever reason,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “I don't believe the situation has had any intent. We don't like to get hit, though.
“You play on. I thought both teams handled it very professionally.”
Marlins manager Don Mattingly said there was clearly no intent behind the pitch to Harrison because the count was 0-2. Mattingly said Nova hit Shuck intentionally.
“It's the first pitch (to Shuck), and there's no doubt about why he did it,” Mattingly said. “He did it in the right spot, and it's over. When it's done right, the message is fine, so I don't think it's going to cause a war or nothing.”
Nova (2-1) pitched 6 2⁄3 innings despite a wobbly start, which included a comebacker in the first that hit his left foot. He allowed three runs and struck out nine, his highest total since 2016.
Justin Bour ended Nova's afternoon with a pinch-hit, two-run homer.
Josh Bell had three hits and three RBIs for the Pirates. Corey Dickerson drove in a pair of runs, had two hits and extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Both came up with Marte usually on base.
“It's always a joy to go 5 for 5 in a game,” Marte said. “I knew I was having a good game. I was feeling great and seeing the results.”
Urena (0-3) allowed eight hits and four runs in five innings for the Marlins (4-11), who went 1-5 on their homestand.