PITTSBURGH -- Ivan Nova didn't pitch a complete-game shutout on Sunday as he did in his last start against the Marlins. He didn't need to. Nova struck out four batters, allowed one hit in six scoreless innings, and the bullpen took over from there, lifting the Pirates to a 3-1 victory over the Marlins at PNC Park.
"I thought [Nova] pitched a very professional game," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He really kind of navigated [Miami's] lineup extremely well."
Nova only allowed three hits on April 29 against Miami. He didn't surrender a hit until the fourth on Sunday. He had spent just 77 pitches through six, but the Pirates decided to pinch-hit John Jaso for Nova with the bases loaded in the sixth, asking the bullpen to record the final nine outs.
"It was a run thing," Hurdle said of pulling Nova. "Bases loaded, one out, might as well hit [the game] open. That part of it didn't work."
So the Bucs asked the bullpen to record the final nine outs. Juan Nicasio pitched a scoreless seventh. Daniel Hudson gave up a leadoff home run in the eighth, but recovered to strike out Giancarlo Stanton and induce a ground out. The Pirates then tasked Felipe Rivero with recording the last four outs for the second straight game.
He only needed 12 pitches to earn his second save in as many days, capping a dominant day for the Bucs' pitching staff. The only blunder was that solo shot in the eighth.
"It was nice," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "It kind of got us going a little bit. Then getting a guy on after that, at least we're putting them in a situation where every ball they throw has a chance to tie the game up. We just weren't able to capitalize."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Early run support: The Pirates lineup didn't waste any time giving Nova the lead. With two outs in the first, both Jose Osuna and David Freese singled. Elias Diaz, who is 11-of-22 in the last eight games, scored both with a double to left field.
"The big hit kind of loosens things up for Nova," Hurdle said. "You go out there and get the early lead and go to work." More >
Opportunity lost: The Pirates added another run in the sixth, but they missed an opportunity to score more. Shortstop Jordy Mercer singled in a run with the bases loaded and only one out, but the next batter Jaso hit into a 3-2 double play that ended with Andrew McCutchen vaulting over the catcher, but still getting tagged out.
"It's one of the those things, 'Alright the throw's going to beat me and [the catcher] is going to be there waiting,'" McCutchen said. "I was trying to make something out of nothing … Luckily, I didn't get hurt." More >
"It's the same thing. Just another game really. It's a nice day. It was warm. Body felt good. It's the same thing. No extra motivation, no extra adrenaline, nothing." -- Marlins lefty Jeff Locke, who gave up three runs in 5 1/3 innings, on facing his former team.
"I had never hit against him. He's been my teammate for six years, so it was really awkward facing him. But you know, I had some good at-bats off of him. And at the end of the day, it's a good three innings." -- McCutchen, on facing his former teammate Locke.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Nova has been effective with his curveball this season, with opponents hitting .163 against him in at-bats that end with a curveball. He continued to frustrate batters with the pitch on Sunday. Six of his curveballs produced four swinging strikeouts and two induced ground balls. He used the curveball to punch out the side in the second.
WHAT'S NEXT Marlins: The Marlins open a two-game series, and homestand, against the A's on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Jose Urena (4-2, 3.96) will make his eighth start since joining the rotation. He beat Oakland on May 23, although he gave up six runs in five innings that day. Right-hander Jharel Cotton (3-6, 5.20) gets the nod for the A's.
Pirates: The Pirates begin a three-game series against the Rockies on Monday at PNC Park at 7:05 p.m. ET. Taillon will be making his first start since May 3 after undergoing surgery for testicular cancer. He posted a 3.31 ERA in six starts before his diagnosis.