CINCINNATI -- It's rare that a Giancarlo Stanton home run isn't the highlight of an individual game performance for him. Friday, he hit his second in as many days, a towering, second-deck shot to left at Great American Ballpark that accounted for half of his team's run production.
Yet of equal importance to the Marlins' series-opening 2-1 win over the Reds was Stanton's glove. With two on, two out and the Marlins up 1-0 in the sixth, Stanton raced toward the right-field line and made a sliding catch to end the inning and rob Devin Mesoraco of a game-tying RBI.
That was one of two stellar plays for Stanton on defense, and starter Nathan Eovaldi was most appreciative. Thanks in part to Stanton's bat and glove, Eovaldi snapped a seven-game winless streak. He powered through the Reds' lineup for eight shutout innings, holding it to five hits.
Before Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier reached on back-to-back, two-out singles in the sixth, the Reds had not put a runner in scoring position. Mesoraco popped up a 99-mph, 2-2 fastball that Stanton turned into a web gem.
At 97 pitches through seven, Eovaldi went out for the eighth and threw his fastball as hard as he did in the first. Ten of his final 15 pitches registered between 96-99 mph. Billy Hamilton swung through a 98-mph heater for Eovaldi's sixth and final strikeout.
His velocity back to where the Marlins are used to seeing it, Eovaldi over his last two starts (both against the Reds) has allowed a run on five hits with three walks and 12 strikeouts over 15 innings. The Reds went 7-for-51 (.137) off him.
"He pitched well at home against these guys and continued," said manager Mike Redmond, after watching Eovaldi throw 72 of 112 pitches for strikes. "That eighth inning was big for him to get through. That's something we've wanted out starters to do and that's part of the development process for some of our guys, to get them over that hump."
Making his 70th start, Eovaldi ranks third among active pitchers under age 25 in that category. Teammate Henderson Alvarez, 24, is at 80 and Jordan Lyles, 23, of the Rockies has 78, per STATS LLC. Friday offered another glimpse of his promise.
He needed just 28 pitches to get through the first three scoreless. He didn't throw too many curves, but his slider was good enough to keep the Reds from zeroing in on the fastball.
Counterpart Mike Leake allowed three hits through five scoreless before command issues got him into trouble in the sixth. With a man on second and two out, Leake walked Garrett Jones on four pitches and hit Marcell Ozuna on a 0-1 sinker. Jarrod Saltalamacchia followed and drove a full-count offering to center for a sac fly.
Casey McGehee initiated things with a one-out double, his second of the game. He was back in the lineup Friday after getting his first day off since May 14. McGehee, who also doubled in the third, had not tallied multiple hits in a game since July 26. His last game with multiple extra-base hits: June 23 (two doubles) at Philadelphia.
Getting Thursday off apparently helped McGehee, who delivered his first multi-hit game since July 26 and first two extra-base hit effort since May 3.
In the seventh, Stanton gave Eovaldi and closer Steve Cishek a bit more margin for error with his 28th homer and second in five plate appearances. Cishek would need it. The Reds opened the nine with back-to-back doubles, but he retired three of the next four batters for his 29th save.
"Stanton two-out homer was huge," Redmond said. "We got a couple of good at-bats right when we needed them and we were able to hold them off."
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