Bell stays hot in support of Nova
PITTSBURGH — Josh Bell has homered in consecutive games following three days off. He doesn’t think it’s a coincidence.
“I was able to kind of reflect a little bit,” Bell said. “Take a step back, watch some baseball, get some work done in the cages and get back to the basics.”
The switch-hitting first baseman combined with Ivan Nova, who got his first victory in a month, to help the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Miami Marlins 5-1 Saturday for their fifth consecutive win.
In a game played in a steady drizzle, Bell connected off Brett Graves leading off the sixth for his 10th home run, down from 26 last year when he finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. Before his home run Friday, Bell had not driven in a run since Aug. 11.
Manager Clint Hurdle did not play Bell on Tuesday or Wednesday against Cincinnati, and the Pirates were off Thursday.
“Just like everybody else, we’ve had a sit down and talked about finishing strong, putting some staples on this season and building some momentum toward next year,” Hurdle said.
Nova (8-9) gave up three hits in six innings, struck out nine and walked three. He had lost three straight starts since beating San Francisco on Aug. 9 and had missed his previous turn for an undisclosed reason.
“I was doing my workouts while I was away,” Nova said. “I’m a professional athlete and I was taking care of my business to make sure I was still ready to pitch.”
Nova improved his career record against the Marlins to 4-0.
“He’s handcuffed us pretty much every time we’ve seen him over the last couple of years,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said.
Pittsburgh at 71-71 reached .500 for the first time since before play on Aug. 21.
“Winning matters every day but, yeah, I think we would all like to finish the season strong,” Hurdle said.
Wei-Yin Chen (6-10) allowed three runs and five hits in four innings, dropping to 1-7 with a 9.13 ERA in 11 road starts. He is 5-3 with a 1.77 ERA in 12 home outings.
Chen said he did not a good feel for the ball in the wet conditions.
“It’s the command. Maybe it’s the weather, it’s the rain, but as a player, that’s what you have to overcome,” Chen said. “That’s not a reason you can say, ‘because it’s the rain.’ As a player, you have to be able to pitch in the rain.”
Jose Osuna doubled leading off the second and scored on Kevin Newman’s single. The Pirates took a 3-0 lead in the fourth when Jacob Stallings had a two-out RBI single and center fielder Lewis Brinson allowed the ball to bounce past him for an error that let Jose Osuna score from first.
Starling Marte hit an RBI double in the seventh off Elieser Hernandez.
Miguel Rojas scored on Nick Kingham’s wild pitch in the eighth for already eliminated Miami, who dropped to 56-68.
Marlins: Mattingly said the team hopes RHP Dan Straily (strained left oblique) will make his next scheduled start. Straily left in the fifth inning Friday.
Pirates: RF Gregory Polanco (bone bruise in left knee) will miss the remainder of the season. He was forced from Friday’s game in the sixth inning following an awkward slide into second base on a double.
Marlins: RHP Jeff Brigham (0-1, 9.00 ERA) will make his second start Sunday after giving up three runs in three innings against Toronto in his major league debut Sept. 2.
Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (12-9, 3.15) is 6-2 with a 0.66 ERA in his last nine starts, allowing just four runs in 54 2/3 innings.