DENVER -- He may have been a triple short of a cycle, but Derek Dietrich was long on offense, pacing the Marlins with a four-hit performance to seal an 8-5 victory and win the series vs. the Rockies on Sunday.
Dietrich ignited the offense with a leadoff double to left in the first inning, sparking a three-run frame on a day when the Fish never trailed. He led off the second with a homer to center -- his third game of the three-game set with a homer. He singled to right in the third, then muscled one past third baseman Nolan Arenado -- playing in to keep the runner on third from scoring on a grounder -- for a run-scoring single in the seventh.
"Of course I'm thinking about the triple," Dietrich said. "This park has more cycles than any park in baseball. So yeah, I'm thinking about it a little bit, but regardless, I want to have a quality at-bat every time up there. I don't think you can force a triple. I was just trying to have a couple more good at-bats."
The four-hit fest matched Dietrich's career high, which he set earlier this month on June 6 in St. Louis. He finished the series hitting 8-for-13 (.615) with three homers, two doubles, a walk, four RBIs, and four runs, and he is hitting .392 (29-for-74) in June.
"He's just gotten hot and been able to sustain it as much as anything," manager Don Mattingly said of his leadoff hitter. "Halfway through the season last year, he finally quit making all these big changes and just stuck with something. [Hitting coach Mike Pagliarulo] has done a nice job of keeping him in check. He's a changer. He wants to change things all the time. His swing's too good for that. We finally got him to kind of stay in check."
Perhaps the biggest change Dietrich has made is to stop making changes.
"I haven't changed for a year," Dietrich affirmed. "I know what I need to do. I know who I am as a player, and I know what I need to do, how to prepare, how I want to hit, how I want to play, and that's what I've been doing for a year now. I think it's evident. I'm just going to keep it going and help the team like I've always tried to do."
Had Dietrich hit for the cycle, it would have been the first in Marlins history, but when Mattingly double-switched with him in the middle of the seventh, he assured the Marlins of remaining the only franchise in baseball without a cycle to its credit.
"Trying to win a game," Mattingly said of the move. "At the end of the day, really, our best defense is on the field. That's what you want to end up doing in games like that. You hate taking guys out in games when you may need them. A one-run game or something you probably couldn't do it. But I didn't have any sense of Marlins history there."
Starting pitcher Caleb Smith left the game in the bottom of the second with left shoulder tightness and is headed to the disabled list. The Rockies briefly tied the game in the bottom of the third when Trevor Story singled home DJ LeMahieu and Charlie Blackmon, but after the Marlins bounced back with a two-run rally in the fourth, they never relinquished the lead again.
"You jump out early, three runs right away on seven pitches," Mattingly said. "Our guy had seven and the same hitter was still hitting in the first. We were able to jump out, they got right back after us. Obviously, we had the injury to Smitty and our bullpen hung in there. Drew [Rucinski] was good enough to keep us in there, get us deeper in the game. Our offense kept kicking some runs in. It just became more of a regular game after that."
After Smith and Rucinski allowed five runs in the first four innings, the bullpen came on strong for five shutout innings, retiring the last 17 Rockies in order to secure the win. Tayron Guerrero notched a career-high four strikeouts over two perfect innings. Adam Conley and Brad Ziegler kept the 'pen's line clean in the seventh and eighth, respectively, and Kyle Barraclough extended his hitless streak to 11 2/3 innings and his scoreless streak to 18 2/3 innings as he earned his seventh save.
"I feel pretty good with the back end," Mattingly said of his bullpen. "We're able to mix and match since we've gotten Conley, and we're able to straighten out the games with Claw, he's able to shut it down."
The Marlins won their seventh consecutive season series against the Rockies, going 4-2 for the season. The mark ties their longest season-series win streak against any opponent. The Marlins won seven season series against Toronto from 1997-2009.
HE SAID IT
"I didn't know that. [John] Silverman, our longtime clubhouse manager said, 'No one's ever had a cycle, so if you would have hit it they would have brought you back for all the anniversaries.' So I was like, 'That would have been cool, but there's always tomorrow.'" -- Dietrich, on not knowing he was poised to hit for the first cycle in Marlins history
Dan Straily (2-3, 4.89) toes the rubber Monday in Miami as the Marlins host the D-backs at 7:10 p.m. ET in the opener of a four-game series. Straily is appealing his suspension for hitting Buster Posey with a pitch last Tuesday in San Francisco, and developments are not expected before his scheduled start Monday. Straily is 1-1 with a 2.20 ERA in three starts against the D-backs.