Marcell Ozuna’s third homer in five games Wednesday provided the early spark for a season-best four-game Marlins winning streak, as a 10-2 victory against the Phillies completed Miami’s first series sweep of the season in front of a sparse matinee crowd at Marlins Park.
The opposite-field, two-run shot off Aaron Nola in the first inning was Ozuna’s 14th, matching Giancarlo Stanton for the team lead. That lasted until first baseman Justin Bour hit homers in the fifth and sixth innings to vault past them with 15.
Bour was tied for second in the NL behind Scott Schebler, who hit his 16th for the Reds in another afternoon game.
“We do we give each other a hard time, whoever has the most home runs,” Bour said of the intramural competition. “Ozuna likes to say, ‘How many you got?’ every day whenever he hits a home run. Whenever I pass him I give him a hard time because he was saying it to me early on when I had like one home run and he had 30. We’ll see who does tomorrow.”
Bour shook off a slow start (he was hitting .178 on April 28) with a torrid May that saw him hit .344 (33-for-96) with 11 homers and 21 RBI. He became the sixth Marlin to hit 15 or more homers before June 1 (Gary Sheffield’s 17 in 1996 were the most).
Ozuna homered for the second consecutive game with one of Ichiro Suzuki’s bats. He retired it after Wednesday’s homer and plans to display it on the wall at home.
Stanton spent the day watching from the dugout as a precaution after leaving Tuesday’s game with a hamstring cramp. He was available to pinch-hit and is expected to play Thursday.
“I said it in spring training that we have a dangerous lineup,” Bour said. “I feel like people are starting to get into their roles and the at-bats are starting to pile together. I think we’re realizing just how good this lineup can be.”
Notably, the homers contributed to continuing a Marlins surge that enabled them to conclude May with wins in six of their past eight games after winning only four times during the first three weeks of the month.
A big factor in improving to 5-1 on the homestand was another strong performance by Dan Straily, who recorded a win in his third consecutive start. Straily (4-3) allowed two runs (one earned) in 6 2/3 innings, while striking out 10, his second time in double digits in 2016.
Of the Marlins’ starters, the right-hander acquired in an offseason trade with Cincinnati has done the most to step into the void of staff ace left by the late Jose Fernandez.
“I think you’d probably say he’s been our best pitcher, our most consistent guy so far,” manager Don Mattingly said.
Straily showed competitive mettle when he faced his biggest test in the fifth after giving up back-to-back singles to open the inning. A two-out infield single by Cesar Hernandez loaded the bases, as Dee Gordon got a glove on it to save a run. But Straily left them loaded as he fooled Aaron Altherr with a slider in the zone.
“They were one swing away from being down only one there. You have to look at each inning and each pitch because you never know when the most important pitch is going to come,” Straily said. “Obviously, in the game it was that at-bat.”
It was the second consecutive inning he recorded all three outs on strikes. It included pitcher Ricardo Pinto bunting foul with two strikes as he failed in a sacrifice attempt.
Straily fell just short of matching a season high of seven innings as Altherr’s two-out, run-scoring single in the seventh ended his day after 113 pitches (81 strikes). He only walked one.
The Marlins chased Nola with four runs in three innings. In addition to the homer, Ozuna drove in a run with a hard bouncer that third baseman Maikel Franco couldn’t handle and was ruled a hit.
Bour led off the fifth with a drive to right-center off Pinto. The following inning he hit one of his high-arcing moonshots off Jeanmar Gomez down the right-field line with Ozuna aboard after his third hit.
The Marlins continued to add to the lead. Rookie J.T. Riddle had a two-out RBI single in the fourth and drove in another run with a sacrifice fly in the three-run fifth.
Continuing to impress since taking over at shortstop with Adeiny Hechavarria on the disabled list, Riddle has driven in 13 runs this month. He made a diving stop to start an inning-ending double play in the first.
Double-play partner Gordon had two hits, scored twice and drove in a run. Every position player had at least one hit in the 14-hit attack. The Marlins have scored seven runs or more in six of their past seven wins.
“Obviously, you like the home runs, but you just like the fact that we’re playing better baseball,” Mattingly said. “You’re feeling a little more confident, a little more energy.”
Despite the recent surge, the Marlins finished a forgettable May at 10-18.
“I care about the last week,” Straily said. “I think that’s the only thing anyone in the clubhouse cares about. We’re not too worried about what this month was. It’s in the past.
“We’re doing the same thing that we were doing before. We’re just getting the result we want, which is the win at the end of every single day.”