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Florida at Pittsburgh

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Florida (11-4)0001120004101
Pittsburgh (9-6) «10201210x7100

LaRoche brothers lead Bucs to sweep of once red-hot Fish

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- Adam LaRoche can't explain why he's gone from being the majors' worst hitter in April to one of its best. All he wants to do is keep hitting like he's not supposed to during a month he and the Pittsburgh Pirates once dreaded.

LaRoche had four hits and little brother Andy drove in a pair of runs, leading the surprising Pirates to a 7-4 victory over Florida on Wednesday and a three-game sweep of the team with baseball's best record.

Florida began the series with an 11-1 record, a seven-game winning streak and a 6-0 road record, only to be outscored 18-6 while being swept in a three-game series by Pittsburgh for the first time since May 30-June 1, 2005.

"They played better the whole series, they ran the bases and got key hits when they had to and they pitched real good," Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "But I think we'll be fine, we'll get recharged when we get back home [Friday]."

The Pirates didn't get their usual standout starting pitching -- their starters came in with a 2.79 ERA -- so they relied instead on the brothers LaRoche and balance throughout the lineup to win their fifth in six games. Seven players had at least one hit each, including starting pitcher Paul Maholm, as the Pirates scored in five different innings.

Pittsburgh is 9-6, its best start since opening 10-5 in 2002. The Pirates were 7-8 a year ago, 6-9 in 2007 and 4-11 in 2005 and 2006.

"I feel like we took advantage of every mistake they made, every little thing, whether it's stealing a bag, scoring on a passed ball -- we took advantage of opportunities," Adam LaRoche said. "I think that proves we're a pretty good team and it's not just a fluke. You come in and play the best team in baseball and sweep them, that's saying something."

The Pirates played with confidence during a 6-3 homestand and, Maholm said, are enthused about not coming to the park "seven games under at this point" as they were in recent seasons.

And what can Adam LaRoche say about his excellent April?

He went 4-for-5 with three doubles to raise his average to .304, which is .125 higher than his .179 career average in April coming into this season. According to Stats LLC, the only NL hitters since 1900 with worse career averages in April were Dal Maxvill (.174) and Clete Boyer (.175).

"That's behind me now," said LaRoche, who appears to be staying on breaking pitches much better than he once did. "If I could answer that, I would have faced it four years ago. I have no idea what it is, but I'm not complaining."

Adam LaRoche doubled in a run during the first against Ricky Nolasco (1-2), then singled ahead of Andy LaRoche's sacrifice fly during a two-run third that made it 3-0. The LaRoche brothers also doubled in the fifth to produce another run.

After the Marlins tied it at 4 with a two-run sixth against Maholm (3-0), the Pirates immediately came back to take a 6-4 lead.

Delwyn Young doubled for his 15th pinch hit over the last two seasons and scored on Nyjer Morgan's single, with Morgan taking second on the throw. Morgan stole third and scored as former Pirates catcher Ronny Paulino's errant throw eluded third baseman Emilio Bonifacio.

"I gave up those two runs and completely took us out of the game. For me, it's embarrassing to do that," Nolasco said. "It's just a little frustrating right now. ... It's not acceptable."

Maholm, who came in with an 0.87 ERA, retired the first nine batters only to allow four runs and eight hits during the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Wes Helms and Cody Ross contributed run-scoring doubles and Nolasco helped himself with an RBI single.

Jesse Chavez, Sean Burnett, John Grabow followed before Matt Capps pitched the ninth for his fifth save in five opportunities.

Several of their top hitters have cooled off since the Marlins were 11-1. Dan Uggla is hitless in 21 at-bats, Bonifacio is 6-for-42 since starting the season 14-for-29 and Hanley Ramirez is 10-for-49 in 11 games despite going 2-for-4 on Wednesday.

"Everybody in here has felt the feeling of getting swept. It happens. It's baseball," Ross said. "We can bounce back. We need to get back to the way we were playing a few days ago."

Notes

  • Maholm's ERA rose to 2.02.
  • Marlins INF Jorge Cantu returned to Miami on Wednesday morning to get his bruised wrist examined, but no major problems were found.
  • Florida was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position during the series until Helms doubled in the fourth.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Adam LaRoche hits three doubles off the Marlins, who entered the series on a 7-game win streak. (AP)
Adam LaRoche hits three doubles off the Marlins, who entered the series on a 7-game win streak. (AP)

Players of the Game
Pittsburgh

A. LaRoche
AB 5
R 2
H 4
HR 0
RBI 1
Florida

H. Ramirez
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 0
RBI 0
 
Florida Marlins
Emilio Bonifacio, 3B5010002 .303
Jeremy Hermida, LF3110110 .286
Hanley Ramirez, SS4220000 .270
Wes Helms, 1B4011012 .294
Dan Uggla, 2B4000024 .196
Ronny Paulino, C4011011 .316
Cody Ross, RF4021000 .241
Cameron Maybin, CF4110023 .214
Ricky Nolasco, P2011010 .167
   a- Alfredo Amezaga, PH1000000 .238
    Dan Meyer, P0000000 .000
    Kiko Calero, P0000000 .000
    Hayden Penn, P0000000 .000
   b- Ross Gload, PH1000001 .278
Totals36410418  
a-popped out for Nolasco in the 7th
b-flied out for Penn in the 9th
Batting
2B - Wes Helms (2, Maholm), Cody Ross (3, Maholm), Cameron Maybin (2, Maholm)
RBI - Wes Helms (3), Ronny Paulino (5), Cody Ross (12), Ricky Nolasco (1)
2-OUT RBI - Wes Helms (2), Ronny Paulino (3), Cody Ross (5), Ricky Nolasco (1)
SB - Emilio Bonifacio (5, 3rd base off Maholm/Jaramillo), Hanley Ramirez (2, 3rd base off Maholm/Jaramillo)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
E - Ronny Paulino (1, Throwing)
Florida Marlins
Ricky Nolasco (L,1-2) 6865350 6.86
Dan Meyer 0.1111000 4.05
Kiko Calero 0.2100010 1.17
Hayden Penn 1000210 0.00
IBB - Moss by Ricky Nolasco, by Moss
HBP - F. Sanchez (by Ricky Nolasco)
Pitches-Strikes - Ricky Nolasco 103-69, Dan Meyer 2-2, Kiko Calero 12-8, Hayden Penn 28-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ricky Nolasco 7-6, Hayden Penn 2-0
Batters Faced - Ricky Nolasco 30, Dan Meyer 2, Kiko Calero 3, Hayden Penn 5
Pittsburgh Pirates
Nyjer Morgan, LF4111100 .323
Freddy Sanchez, 2B4210011 .359
Nate McLouth, CF3111200 .259
Adam LaRoche, 1B5241002 .304
Brandon Moss, RF2000202 .225
Andy LaRoche, 3B3012014 .225
Jack Wilson, SS4011016 .286
Jason Jaramillo, C4000021 .286
Paul Maholm, P2000010 .125
   a- Delwyn Young, PH1110000 .333
    Jesse Chavez, P0000000 .000
    Sean Burnett, P0000000 .000
    John Grabow, P0000000 .000
   b- Craig Monroe, PH1000010 .235
    Matt Capps, P0000000 .000
Totals33710657  
a-doubled for Maholm in the 6th
b-struck out for Grabow in the 8th
Batting
2B - Adam LaRoche 3 (7, Nolasco, Nolasco, Meyer), Andy LaRoche (4, Nolasco), Delwyn Young (1, Nolasco)
SF - Andy LaRoche (1)
RBI - Nyjer Morgan (9), Nate McLouth (14), Adam LaRoche (10), Andy LaRoche 2 (4), Jack Wilson (7)
2-OUT RBI - Andy LaRoche (2), Jack Wilson (4)
SB - Nyjer Morgan 2 (6, off Nolasco/Paulino, 2nd base off Penn/Paulino), Freddy Sanchez (1, 2nd base off Nolasco/Paulino)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Maholm-F. Sanchez-Jaramillo-LaRoche
Pittsburgh Pirates
Paul Maholm (W,3-0) 6844140 2.03
Jesse Chavez (H,1) 0.2000000 1.35
Sean Burnett (H,1) 0.1000000 5.40
John Grabow (H,3) 1100030 0.00
Matt Capps (S,5) 1100010 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Paul Maholm 98-63, Jesse Chavez 10-7, Sean Burnett 4-2, John Grabow 15-12, Matt Capps 17-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Paul Maholm 7-6, Sean Burnett 1-0
Batters Faced - Paul Maholm 26, Jesse Chavez 2, Sean Burnett 1, John Grabow 4, Matt Capps 4
Game Information
Attendance - 10655
Game Time - 2:54
Temperature - 42
Umpires - Home - Jim Joyce, First Base - Bill Miller, Second Base - Brian Runge, Third Base - Brian Knight