MLB

Pirates-Marlins Preview

Jonathon Niese's case of whiplash has subsided recently after watching plenty of his pitches leave the ballpark in a hurry during a difficult stretch.

He should be hoping Giancarlo Stanton's injury keeps him out at least another day.

Stanton is just one of the Miami Marlins to have success off Niese, who looks to help the Pittsburgh Pirates avoid a fourth loss in five games Wednesday night in South Florida.

Niese (5-2, 4.42 ERA) has been great over his last three, going 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA after allowing one run in six innings of Friday's 9-1 win at Texas. He posted a 7.36 ERA while giving up seven homers over his previous four outings.

''I've been working hard between games, and it's been showing in games,'' Niese said. ''I know I have it in me, but in my sides in between games I was able to work on the mechanical part of it.''

The left-hander allowed another homer against the Rangers, though, and the 12 he's surrendered are among the most in the majors.

''He's working and developing,'' manager Clint Hurdle said. ''The delivery's repeating itself. He's physically getting in a good place.''

Stanton homered off him last season when the Marlins roughed up Niese on May 30, but Niese bounced back with seven strong innings in his last start against them Aug. 4 while with the New York Mets.

The Marlins slugger is hitting .414 with four homers off Niese, and Dee Gordon (5 for 10), Marcell Ozuna (5 for 12) and Chris Johnson (10 for 27) also have had success against him.

Stanton, though, is still dealing with a sore right side and didn't start for the seventh straight game Tuesday. Manager Don Mattingly said he would've been available to pinch-hit, leaving open the possibility that he could be back in the starting lineup to face Niese.

"We'll go through the same process (Wednesday), batting practice again," Mattingly said. "If that goes good again we'll see where he's at."

Miami (27-25) had dropped three of its previous four prior to Tuesday's 3-1 victory as Ichiro Suzuki had two hits to tie Sam Crawford for 31st on MLB's all-time list, 37 short of 3,000.

J.T. Realmuto went 3 for 4 and Christian Yelich's RBI single in the seventh put the Marlins ahead for good.

The Pirates (29-22) scored two runs or fewer for the third time in four games after exploding for 10 runs and 14 hits while winning Monday's series opener. They were held scoreless until Gregory Polanco's sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Pittsburgh looks to bounce back against Adam Conley (3-3, 4.15), who continues to have control issues.

Conley's average of 14.19 baserunners allowed per nine innings is among the highest in the majors. He walked a career-high seven in a loss to Washington on May 22, then walked another and hit three batters over 4 1/3 innings while getting a no-decision in the Marlins' 4-2 loss to Atlanta on Friday.

The left-hander led 2-0 going into the fifth, then gave up two runs on four straight hits that chased him.

"At this point, (he's) got to execute," Mattingly said. "You've got to get the ball where you want it, and make sure you're getting the ball to your spots. If you don't get your spots, and get into bad counts, you're going to give up some hits."

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