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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Xavier Scruggs had a ball sitting in his locker after his milestone hit in the Miami Marlins' latest win.
That ball, which Scruggs smashed into the left-field bleachers for his first major league home run, will be given to his father. The two-run shot helped the Marlins beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1 Saturday night for their second straight win.
"It felt great," Scruggs said. "That's the thing that was most important, was just being able to provide something for this team. You can get a hit at any time, but the big hits are the ones that really matter."
David Phelps pitched six scoreless innings, Miguel Rojas scored on an error in the third and Ichiro Suzuki doubled down the right field line in the fourth — for his 3,008th hit in the majors to move into 28th place on the career list — before Scruggs went deep.
Phelps (7-6) allowed two hits and two walks with nine strikeouts while throwing 96 pitches in six scoreless innings in his fourth start of the season. He had not gone more than 5 1/3 innings or thrown more than 90 pitches in his previous three starts.
"To give us six there, and obviously the zeroes, he's been great," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "He's pitched great. Now, he's to the point where he's saying he felt like he could have gone back out. It's just been anything we've asked him to do, he's been able to do."
Fernando Rodney got the last three outs for his sixth save with the Marlins and 23rd overall this season.
Miami has won two straight after a three-game skid, and handed Pittsburgh is second straight loss after winning six of its previous seven.
Chad Kuhl (3-1) gave up three runs and five hits in six innings. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of his past six starts.
"I think that (catcher Francisco Cervelli) did a good job with getting me back to my fastbal," Kuhl said. "My fastball wasn't there in the beginning. I threw a ton of off-speed pitches and when you throw off-speed, you really have to trust it. That really got my arm going. I was able to get back to my fastball and be efficient in later innings."
Scruggs, who went 1 for 3 in his season debut on Friday, had not homered in 65 plate appearances with Miami and St. Louis spanning three seasons.
Josh Harrison opened the bottom of the first with a single before Phelps forced Starling Marte into a double play. Phelps faced the minimum until walking John Jaso with two out in the fifth, ending a streak of 13 straight batters retired.
Phelps struck out five of six batters in the second and third innings, and retired the side in order in the fourth. He struck out Gregory Polanco and David Freese to start the fifth before walking Jaso.
"(Phelps) was just on top of his game," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We weren't able to push him back. Harrison had three hits and Mercer had one. They're hitting way too far apart so that's minor. Get a bunch of them and maybe something good happens. So, whether you like it or not, their pitcher was better than our offense tonight."
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen inadvertently helped give the Marlins their 1-0 lead in the third when Dee Gordon's fly ball clanked out of McCutchen's glove for an error that allowed Rojas to score from second base.
Harrison, who had three hits, drove in Jordy Mercer with a single to left field in the eighth inning to pull the Pirates to 3-1.
Pirates: Pittsburgh placed 3B Jung Ho Kang on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder injury sustained in Friday night's game. The Pirates recalled 1B-OF Josh Bell from Triple-A Indianapolis to take Kang's place on the 25-man active roster.
Marlins: Jose Urena (1-4, 6.40) will look for his first win since July 19 when he faces the Pirates on Sunday. Urena has allowed a combined 13 earned runs over his past two starts.
Pirates: Ryan Vogelsong (2-2, 3.20) will attempt to pick up a second consecutive win after allowing four earned runs in his last outing. He has allowed five earned runs in three starts since returning from an eye injury on Aug. 4.
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