Stanton's homer helps Marlins complete sweep of Reds, 7-3
MIAMI (AP) An NL All-Star jersey was draped over the chair at Giancarlo Stanton's locker Sunday, and lately it's looking like a better fit.
The $325 million slugger ended a slump-marred first half of the season Sunday with a homer that put the Miami Marlins ahead to stay, and they completed their first series sweep of Cincinnati since 2003 by winning 7-3.
Stanton didn't make the All-Star team but will compete in the Home Run Derby. He goes into the break with 20 home runs and 50 RBIs, even though his play was nothing special for a prolonged stretch.
''You could have picked anyone in the stands and put them in right field a month ago,'' he said. ''It's pretty good now. There have been good strides.''
Stanton was batting .193 on June 15 but has raised his average to .233. His latest hit was a two-run homer in the fifth inning that gave Miami a 4-3 lead.
How will he do in the Derby in San Diego on Monday?
''We'll see,'' he said. ''You're going to have to watch. I look forward to it a lot.''
''I hope he hits some monumental ones,'' manager Don Mattingly said. ''There's a building out there in left field down the line - I think he can clear that.''
Thanks to three consecutive wins over Cincinnati, and despite Stanton's struggles, the Marlins (47-41) have their best record at the All-Star break since 1997.
''It's time to press on the gas, man,'' Stanton said. ''We can peel off with everyone or we can keep going. No one is going to remember the halftime record.''
The last-place Reds, swept in Miami for the first time since 1996, were again hurt by a succession of baserunning mistakes and defensive lapses.
''We were awful today defensively,'' manager Bryan Price said.
Miami's Adeiny Hechavarria scored from second base on a passed ball, a franchise first. All-Star center fielder Marcell Ozuna threw out Brandon Phillips on the bases for the second game in a row.
Four Marlins relievers combined to allow two baserunners over the final five innings. Mike Dunn (1-1) pitched a perfect fifth to break the franchise record for career pitching appearances with his 369th.
Reds rookie Cody Reed (0-4) allowed three earned runs in 4 2/3 innings to remain winless in five career starts.
''I just made that one bad pitch - to Stanton,'' Reed said. ''The guy is getting paid 300-something-million to hit home runs; he does that from time to time.''
Reds starters have an ERA of 5.86 this month. Miami improved to 15-6 against left-handers.
Sloppy fielding hurt Cincinnati in the second inning, when Miami scored twice. Miguel Rojas doubled and took advantage of All-Star right fielder Jay Bruce's poor throw to score on a single by Hechavarria, who took second on the play.
A pitch by Reed then caromed off catcher Tucker Barnhart's shin guard, and when the ball rolled behind the first-base coaching box, first baseman Joey Votto was slow to react, giving Hechavarria time to score easily.
Miami also scored on a passed ball in Saturday's win.
Marlins pinch-hitter Ichiro Suzuki crumpled to the dirt when hit on the left knee by a pitch from Raisel Iglesias in the seventh inning, but he stayed in the game. He needs 10 hits for 3,000.
Umpire Mike Estabrook twice called Marlins out on plays at first base, and both rulings were quickly overturned by replay reviews. The second reversal gave Miguel Rojas an infield single, and he later scored on Realmuto's two-out single in the sixth.
Marlins: 1B Justin Bour (sprained ankle) is expected to return soon after the All-Star break.
Reds: RHP Homer Bailey (elbow surgery), who made a rehab start Thursday at Triple-A Louisville, is expected to pitch again July 15 and July 20 before potentially returning to the Reds, manager Bryan Price said.
When the Marlins visit the St. Louis Cardinals for three games beginning Friday, the starters are expected to be Wei-Yin Chen, Adam Conley and Koehler, with All-Star Jose Fernandez skipping a turn to help limit his innings pitched.
After the break, the Reds return home to face the Milwaukee Brewers for a weekend series that begins Friday. The Reds plan to start, in order, Anthony DeSclafani, John Lamb and Dan Straily. Brandon Finnegan and Reed are scheduled to start the first two games of the following series against Atlanta.