CINCINNATI -- Ten years and 13 days since his 48th career win for the Marlins, Brad Penny picked up his 49th.
The bullpen made Penny's five-inning, two-run (one earned) effort stand up in a 4-3 win over the Reds at Great American Ballpark Saturday. Though the Marlins clinched the series, they remain 1 1/2 behind the Reds and 4 1/2 behind the second National League Wild Card spot.
Penny, 36, had not pitched in the majors since Sept. 29, 2012, when he logged the last of three consecutive losses as a member of the Giants. He last appeared with the Marlins on July 28, 2004. They traded him two days later to the Dodgers.
The win tied Penny with A.J. Burnett for fourth on the club's all-time list behind Ricky Nolasco (81), Dontrelle Willis (68) and Josh Johnson (56). Behind the plate for several of those Penny victories, manager Mike Redmond didn't enjoy this one any less.
"He's grateful for the opportunity and he earned it," Redmond said, before the game. "He went 1/8to the minors3/8 and did what he needed to do, pitched well. Hopefully that will produce a couple of wins for us."
Donning No. 33 and red-orange instead of No. 31 and teal, Penny watched his new teammates position him for his first win since Sept. 20, 2012 with a two-run sixth that broke the 2-2 tie. With men on second and third and one out, Christian Yelich (two RBI) delivered a sac fly and Donovan Solano followed with an RBI-double. Getting the start at second, Solano had not knocked in a run since July 12, but he's 13 for his last 33 (.394).
Penny wasn't economical enough with his pitches to get beyond the fifth, but he kept the Marlins in the game. Just one of the two runs he allowed was earned. The unearned run came during a laborious, 27-pitch third that would have been avoided with better defense.
With a man on first and one out, Penny got Jay Bruce to ground a pitch to first. Garrett Jones let it get past him and was charged with the error. Instead of a possible inning-ending 3-6-3 double play, the Reds down 2-1 put runners at the corners.
Todd Frazier tied the game with a single up the middle, but Marcell Ozuna threw out Bruce at the plate trying to score from second. Penny in walking the next two batters he faced threw eight of 11 pitches out of the zone. Skip Schumaker followed and got ahead 2-0 before lining out on Penny's 27th and final pitch of the inning.
The Reds, who went 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position off Penny, squared up plenty of pitches but totaled just four hits. They also drew four walks, just five fewer than Penny issued during his 27 2/3 innings at Triple-A New Orleans.
In terms of stuff, Penny's fastball sat 90-92 and touched 94 a handful of times. His curve was decent, but he didn't find the zone enough with his changeup.
Bruce welcomed back Penny to the major leagues by depositing his ninth pitch deep into the right-field bleachers. Penny fell behind 3-1 and Bruce unloaded on the ensuing 91-mph offering to tie the game.
The Marlins had gone 11 consecutive games without allowing a home run and fell one shy of matching the club record stretch (July 24-Aug. 4, 2013). They began the day having served up 83 homers, fifth-fewest among National League teams.
Like Penny, Reds' starter Alfredo Simon allowed two runs on four hits and walked four through five innings. The difference was both were earned. Yelich opened the game with the double and scored on a Giancarlo Stanton sac fly. The following inning Yelich knocked in a run with a RBI-groundout.
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