MIAMI (AP) — Marcell Ozuna borrowed teammate Ichiro Suzuki's bat and needed only four pitches to hit a homer . That's no surprise, because lately the Miami Marlins are finding all kinds of ways to score.
Ozuna had three hits — all with the loaned lumber — and scored twice, and the revived Marlins won their third game in a row by beating the Philadelphia Phillies 7-2 on Tuesday night.
Giancarlo Stanton hit his third homer since moving into the No. 2 spot in the batting order a week ago. Justin Bour reached base four times, and Dee Gordon had two hits to hike his average over the past nine games to .436.
And then there was the potent combo of Ozuna and Suzuki's bat. Mindful of Suzuki's 3,041 career hits, Ozuna said he observed his teammate hitting well in batting practice and approached him afterward, recounting their conversation:
"Can I borrow your bat?" Ozuna said.
"For what? For signing?" Suzuki asked.
"No, for the game tonight," Ozuna said.
"No way. Are you kidding me?" Suzuki said.
After hitting a homer to lead off the second inning, Ozuna sought out Suzuki.
"He said, 'Wow!' I said, 'Thank you.' He was very happy," Ozuna said.
Ozuna said the borrowed bat has a smaller barrel and handle and is lighter than his. He said he'll decide Wednesday whether to use it again when Miami tries for its first sweep of the season.
The Marlins' modest winning streak is their longest since mid-April. Second-year Miami manager Don Mattingly sees recent signs of improvement in the team's approach at the plate.
"It has been the best since I've been here," Mattingly said. "I like what we're starting to put together. We'll see if we can sustain."
Both starting pitchers departed with injuries. Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez (2-5) left in the second inning because of a right elbow flexor strain, and
Marlins left-hander Justin Nicolino exited after three scoreless innings due to a blister on his left index finger.
Velasquez will go on the disabled list, manager Pete Mackanin said. Velasquez said he had a similar injury in the minors and is optimistic he's not seriously hurt.
Nicolino was injured when the ball hit his finger when he bunted in the third inning . He said he's confident he'll be able to make his next scheduled start.
The Phillies managed only two hits against five pitchers. They dropped their first two games in Miami to lose their 10th consecutive series, their worst streak in 20 years.
The Phils (17-33) have the worst record in the majors after 50 games. They've lost 24 of their past 30, and are 7-20 on the road.
"We're a better team than this," Mackanin said. "When you're going bad it just snowballs, and we just can't seem to get it going. We need a good game where everybody kind of contributes and starts hitting. I know we're better than what we're doing."
Philadelphia's offensive highlight came from outfielder Howie Kendrick, who returned this week after missing 37 games because of an abdominal strain. He hit his first homer of the year to make the score 7-1.
Dustin McGowan (2-0) replaced Nicolino and allowed one run in three innings. Velasquez threw only 19 pitches in 1 1/3 innings and was charged with two runs, one earned.
Stanton hit a two-run homer , his 14th, in a five-run third. Since Stanton moved up to the No. 2 spot, he is 12 for 29 (.414) with three homers and seven RBIs in seven games, and the Marlins are 5-2 while outscoring opponents 48-22.
Miami's record before the change was 15-28.
"He has been really good," Mattingly said. "Sometimes just being in a different spot in the order changes your thinking."
The Phillies escaped an injury when the bat slipped out of first baseman Andres Blanco's hands on a swing, went flying and struck the roof of the dugout.
The Marlins drew one of their smallest crowds this season — 16,241 — hours after news surfaced that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is no longer interested in buying the team. The Marlins rank last in the NL in attendance.
Miami RHP Dan Straily (3-3, 3.83 ERA) faces RHP Aaron Nola (2-2, 4.34 ERA) in the series finale Wednesday.
(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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