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'Cruz' and 'The Big Bear' power Marlins to win

August 25, 2017

MIAMI -- Containing Giancarlo Stanton, aka "Cruz" on Players Weekend, is a tough assignment for any pitching staff at the moment. The Marlins' lineup is doubly tough when Marcell Ozuna, "The Big Bear," gets into the act.Stanton blasted two home runs and drove in five on Friday night, increasing his

MIAMI -- Containing Giancarlo Stanton, aka "Cruz" on Players Weekend, is a tough assignment for any pitching staff at the moment. The Marlins' lineup is doubly tough when Marcell Ozuna, "The Big Bear," gets into the act.
Stanton blasted two home runs and drove in five on Friday night, increasing his MLB-leading homer total to 49. But it was Ozuna's three-run shot in the seventh inning that rallied the Marlins to an 8-6 victory over San Diego at Marlins Park. With the win, the Marlins (64-63) are above .500 for the first time since being 10-9 on April 26, and 4 1/2 games out of the second National League Wild Card spot.
"This is something with Big G -- he's fueled this run, for sure," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "After the break, he's just been on a tear. The good thing about O -- we talked about O last year, the second half wasn't very good. Him and I talked about it, and I told him, I was going to stay on him, because he just got out of his game."

Stanton and Ozuna accounted for all eight of Miami's runs.
"Give Ozuna everything he needs, man," Stanton said of his teammate. "I was proud of him for that at-bat. That's a baseball player's at-bat, a very smart at-bat."
• Players talk Players Weekend: Marlins | Padres
The Padres rallied from two deficits on a pair of two-run homers. In the fourth inning, Carlos Asuaje connected off Miami starter Adam Conley, and San Diego grabbed a 6-5 lead in the sixth on Jabari Blash's two-run homer off Dustin McGowan ("D-Mac"), capping a four-run inning. Blash is going by "Big Daddy" for Players Weekend.

"The plus side for us is you see a gritty team that keeps fighting back," Padres manager Andy Green said. "You look up and you've got young guys at the top of the batting order getting big hit after big hit."
• Asuaje's Miami homecoming one to remember

On Dominican Republic Heritage Night, Ozuna celebrated his 30th homer of the season, which came off Kirby Yates, aka "Kirbs," with one out in the seventh inning. The All-Star outfielder now has a career-high 101 RBIs.
"I felt like I was playing Dominican winter ball in the seventh inning," Ozuna said. "The crowd was yelling at me like, 'It's time now.'"
No matter what name is on the back of his jersey, the home run show continues for Stanton, who now has 16 in the month of August, one short of the National League record shared by Sammy Sosa (2001) and Willie Mays (1965).
Stanton connected on each of his first two at-bats, with his two-run laser in the first inning tracked by Statcast™ at 118.2 mph, making it his hardest hit home run of the season. The distance was 462 feet. In the third inning, he went opposite field for a solo shot, that had an exit speed of 104.8 mph and a distance of 395 feet. In the fourth inning, he added a two-run double, batting with the bases loaded.

"He's hot. You don't wanna pitch to him in certain situations but you have to when nobody's on and you have to when there's just a guy on first base in the first inning," Green said. "I think we missed those pitches. To his credit, he crushed them."
Statcast™ tracked Blash's home run at 450 feet, his personal high, and tied for San Diego's fifth longest this year.
"He's not short on power," Green said. "There's really probably one guy on the baseball field that's got more pop than him and he's got 49 home runs. Jabari's got a ton of pop."
The Big Bear attacks: With one swing, Ozuna achieved two personal records -- and also gave the Marlins a two-run lead in the process. On a 2-0 offering from Yates, Ozuna blasted No. 30, projected by Statcast™ at 425 feet with an exit speed of 107.4 mph. He also topped 100 RBIs for the first time, and rallied the Marlins from a run down to two in front.
"My wife yesterday, she made a good dinner in my room and gave me a surprise last night when we landed here," Ozuna said. "She was thinking if you do it, the 30, you earn it. We did it tonight."
Stanton stays in yard, but scores two: After surrendering home runs to Stanton his first two times up, Padres starter Travis Wood ("Woody") faced the slugger with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth inning. An already tense situation for Wood got even more complicated when he fell behind, 3-0, in the count. Stanton, on a 3-1 pitch, lined a two-run double to left, putting Miami ahead, 5-2. The five RBIs matched a career high in a game for Stanton, now done five times.
"We have a good team plan on how to attack this guy every night, and try not to stray far from it," Stanton said. "It's been working. We've needed runs late too. So, just chip away."
"Execute pitches. That's about it," Wood said. "If you execute your pitches, it makes him work. But if you miss, he's not gonna miss it."

"We've had this energy before, periodically. But this is different in the sense, we're all kind of playing our own game. No one is trying to be a different player than what they are, and everyone is mastering their craft, and trying to help the team win, individually." -- Stanton, on the Marlins' successful run
Stanton has 105 RBIs, matching his career high (previously set in 2014). With Ozuna at 101 RBIs, this is the first time the Marlins have had two players top 100 RBIs since 2009 -- Hanley Ramirez (106) and Jorge Cantu (100).
Padres:Dinelson Lamet (7-5, 4.84) will look to build on his strong August when he takes the ball for Saturday's 4:10 p.m. PT game in Miami. Known as "El Flaco" for Players Weekend, Lamet is 2-1 with a 2.82 ERA with 25 strikeouts over 22 1/3 frames this month.
Marlins:Odrisamer Despaigne (0-1, 4.42), aka "Mili Pino" for Players Weekend, gets the start on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET against the Padres. It will be Despaigne's 11th appearance and second start.
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Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Patrick Pinak is a reporter for based in Miami who covered the Padres on Friday.