MIAMI -- He sandwiched a single around a pair of walks to start the 10th inning of a 2-2 game Sunday. A.J. Ramos with the bases loaded and no outs pondered the following questions: Can you get the job done? Are you good enough to do it?
Ramos answered in the affirmative, inducing a 5-2-3 Russell Martin double play and two batters later striking out Clint Barmes. That set up Casey McGehee in the bottom half to keep doing what done all season. His sacrifice fly off Jared Hughes sent the Miami Marlins to a series-salvaging, 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Marlins Park.
It was McGehee who in the eighth ripped a game-tying, two-out, two-run double into the left-center field gap. The three-hit, three-RBI game raised McGehee's batting average to .309 and his RBI count to 43, which ranks second among all major league third baseman.
"We talk about him a lot and how big he's been hitting behind Giancarlo (Stanton)," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "If they continue to walk him, I feel so comfortable having (McGehee) back there. He gives us a great at-bat and you see him rising to the occasion."
With a man on second and one out in the 10th, the Pirates intentionally walked Stanton to bring up McGehee. Rafael Furcal opened the inning with a single after fouling a pitch off the top of his left knee and collapsing at the plate. Furcal finished the at-bat, jogged gingerly to first and exited for a pinch-runner.
McGehee drove Hughes' 2-2 offering to right, plenty deep enough for Ed Lucas -- who advanced to third on a wild pitch -- to trot home. After Stanton intentional walks, McGehee is 4-for-6 with two walks, a sacrifice fly and six RBI. In addition, McGehee is pacing the majors with 30 hits with runners in scoring position. Adeiny Hechavarria led the Marlins last season with 29 and Jose Reyes paced the club in 2012 with 32.
"The more times you're in big spots the easier it is to slow yourself down and not get over-excited," said McGehee, who during his current 10-game hitting streak owns a .418 average. "I think that's part of maturing as a player, too. Every time those situations come up, not that it gets easier but at least you keep your head about you a little bit."
Ramos kept his head about him even as the Pirates appeared primed to take the lead in the 10th. He fell behind Martin 3-1, but ultimately got the groundball he needed on the third full count pitch of the at-bat. After intentionally walking Pedro Alvarez to re-load the bases, Ramos struck out Barmes on four pitches.
Ramos joined Robb Nen and Armando Benitez as the only relievers in Marlins' history credited with a win after walking three in an inning or less of work.
"I had to earn that one," Ramos said. "I'm just glad we pulled it out...It was really frustrating, but instead of being out there and thinking about those previous pitches, I said, 'Alright, bases loaded, it's up to you now.'"
It was up to Henderson Alvarez to give his team's taxed bullpen a break, and he did just that. Alvarez gave up two runs on seven hits through seven innings for the Marlins' first quality start since June 6. In the six games since, the starters averaged fewer than five innings per game.
Though the Pirates' offense totaled 44 hits, their starting pitching had as much to do with the series win. Jeff Locke, Charlie Morton and Vance Worley in his 2014 debut on Sunday (seven scoreless innings) held the Marlins to four runs over 22 innings for a 1.64 ERA with three walks and 18 strikeouts.
"We talk about it almost every night," Redmond said. "A.J. getting out of that jam was big and was a momentum-turner obviously. There's no quit out there."
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