Tyler Naquin hit two solo homers and Vladimir Gutierrez pitched seven effective innings, helping the Cincinnati Reds beat the Miami Marlins 3-1 on Sunday for a sweep of their four-game series.
Naquin’s leadoff shot extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He added his 18th homer in the eighth, making it 3-1 when he drove an 0-2 fastball from Anthony Bass into the seats in right-center.
Cincinnati won for the sixth time in eight games. It also moved a game ahead of San Diego for the second NL wild card when the Padres lost 7-4 to Philadelphia.
Next up for the second-place Reds is a three-game set at NL Central-leading Milwaukee.
“There's just not really a better time of year for a baseball player,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It's not even close. This is what it’s all about.”
Miami wasted a sharp performance by Sandy Alcantara (7-11) in its seventh straight loss. Alcantara struck out a career-high 11 while working seven innings of two-run ball.
The game was tied at 1 when Mike Moustakas led off the fifth with a drive to right for his fifth homer, stopping an 0-for-26 slide, the longest of his career.
“I've been struggling a little bit at the plate so to get a home run or a hit in general felt pretty good, but to get the go-ahead homer was huge not only for me but for the boys,” Moustakas said. “The guy who was throwing today, as nasty as his stuff was, it was a big spot in the game for us."
Gutierrez (9-4) allowed three hits, struck out eight and walked one. Lucas Sims got three outs before Michael Lorenzen pitched a scoreless ninth for his third save.
“The starting pitching on our team has been a constant,” Bell said. “We've had that, and you can never take it for granted. (Gutierrez), being one those starters, has made the most of the opportunities.”
“They seem to be battling,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said when asked about the losing streak. “I know we’re in a tough spot. I know we’re playing different people. I feel like guys are continuing to get ready.”
Bell said Naquin's leadoff homer “changed the complexion of the game,” considering how well Alcantara was throwing.
“We saw what he could do after that and it was pretty impressive. It was the home runs today, but the first one might have been the most important,” he said.
Naquin, who was moved up to the leadoff spot because Jonathan India got the day off, connected for his third leadoff homer of the season. He doubled three times during Saturday night's 7-4 victory.
Reds: LHP Wade Miley's leg appeared to be bothering him after he delivered a pitch Saturday. He stayed in the game. Bell said it doesn't appear to be serious, but Miley is being checked out further.
Marlins: After an off day, Miami opens a three-game series against visiting Washington on Tuesday. It sees the Reds again next weekend.
Reds: Following the first off day after 20 straight games, the Reds begin a critical series Tuesday night against the Brewers. Right-hander Tyler Mahle (10-4, 3.78 ERA) is expected to start the opener against right-hander Corbin Burnes (8-4, 2.13 ERA).
“If we can go up there and sweep them, it's going to make things real interesting,” Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson said.
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