Baseball / Sports

Marlins cap successful road trip with sweep of Astros

HOUSTON -- What a difference a league makes.

In 19 years' worth of trips to Houston, the Marlins never swept a three-game series. Meeting the Marlins for the first time as interleague opponents, the Astros couldn't sidestep the skid. Sunday's 4-2 Marlins' win culminated a 6-1 jaunt through Turner Field and Minute Maid Park.

After the best seven-game road trip in franchise history, the Marlins now are 20-14 in away games since their 3-15 start. They have won four in a row, seven of eight and open a pivotal three-game set against the first-place Nationals Monday seven games back.

"We have a good feeling going home," manager Mike Redmond said. "Every team that gets on a run and gets going, it's because of their pitching. We went through a stretch there we had some struggles, but right now our guys are going good and feeding off each other."

Jacob Turner wasn't especially sharp, but he allowed one run over 5 2/3 innings. The Marlins' bullpen did the rest. Four relievers combined on the final 10 outs, giving Turner wins in back-to-back starts for the first time in his career.

Saturday, four relievers combined on the final four scoreless innings. Sunday, four more recorded the final 10 outs allowing one run, a Jon Singleton ninth-inning homer off Steve Cishek, who nonetheless saved his 26th.

"We're just trying to get out and keep this thing rolling, no matter whether our starters give us seven innings or if they give us four," said Chris Hatcher, after his second scoreless inning in as many games. "The motto down there in the bullpen is: 'Keep it where it is.' "

The Marlins got all the offense they would need in the first inning off Collin McHugh. Fresh off a ninth-inning, two-run homer Saturday, Jordany Valdespin knocked in Christian Yelich with an RBI-triple and scored on a Casey McGehee sac fly. Garrett Jones followed and tacked on one more, depositing a 1-1 offering into the right-field bleachers for his 11th.

One of the Marlins' five hits through the remainder of the game was a Marcell Ozuna solo homer, his second this month and first since July 8. Since Ozuna's last extra-base hit -- a July 19 double against the Giants -- through Saturday, Ozuna was in a 3-for-22 skid (.136) with 10 strikeouts.

"Sometimes you just need that day where you don't have to think about who's pitching and your at-bats," said Redmond, who did not start Ozuna Saturday. "That was a great at-bat and hopefully it gets him going."

The Astros, who on average saw 4.3 pitches per plate appearance through four innings, twice in the fifth inning put a Turner first-pitch in play. Jose Altuve (3-for-4) logged his sixth hit in seven at-bats.

Two batters later, Turner got a better result on a first-pitch fastball to Chris Carter, who grounded it to third for the inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.

Turner needed just six pitches to get through the fifth after averaging 19.3 pitches over the first four innings.

Altuve, who went 7 for 13 in the series, accounted for his team's lone run off Turner with a first-inning homer. The diminutive Altuve drove Turner's second pitch, a 91-mph fastball, above the yellow line to the right of the Crawford boxes.

"Obviously you don't want to give up a leadoff homer, but he's a good hitter and I just left a pitch over the middle of the plate," said Turner, who threw just 56.3 percent of 96 pitches in the zone.

"I really felt like I had to battle all day. I didn't have my best stuff, but at the same time I made some pitches when I needed to and got out of jams."

In two starts since the Marlins re-inserted him in the rotation, Turner has allowed three runs on 10 hits (two solo homers) with four walks and eight strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings.

"We took three from Atlanta and felt like we did a pretty good job there," Hatcher said. "You can't take your foot off the gas. When things are going good you have to keep pounding and not let up."

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