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NYM@MIA: Ozuna nabs Nieuwenhuis at home to end game

MIAMI -- At a time when the Marlins are looking for an ace, Henderson Alvarez is assuming the role.

The right-hander threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings on Friday night, and the Marlins held off the Mets, 3-2, at Marlins Park.

The save went to Steve Cishek, but the game-saving defensive plays were turned in by left fielder Marcell Ozuna, who showcased his strong throwing arm by twice nabbing the potential tying run at the plate.

The game ended when Chris Young, with the count full and Kirk Nieuwenhuis on third, lifted a fly ball to left field. Ozuna got in throwing position before he caught it and launched a laser to the plate. Nieuwenhuis slid in, but he was tagged out by Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

"Ozuna, he got the save tonight, for sure," said Cishek, who technically converted his 17th save in 18 opportunities. "I'm still a little in awe tonight about what happened."

Ozuna's heroics made club history. It's the first time the Marlins have ever had a regular-season game end with a win on an outfield assist at home plate.

The Marlins' most memorable finish at home plate came in the 2003 playoffs, in the National League Division Series, when they closed out the Giants. Jeff Conine threw J.T. Snow out at the plate, and catcher Ivan Rodriguez withstood a collision to make the tag.

"I can't remember seeing a game decided by two great throws from the left fielder and two great tags from the catcher," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "That was pretty amazing. That just shows that you don't have to hit to win games. You can do it with your glove. All those kids watching at home, you have to play defense too."

It's been a rough and emotionally draining homestand for the Marlins, who have lost five of eight. On a night the offense squandered chances, while Alvarez was impressive on the mound, Ozuna's throws gave the feeling of a walk-off win.

"It was crazy because I thought the game was going to be tied right there with a blown save, but he throws him out at the plate," Cishek said. "But we have to wait for instant replay. I didn't know what to do with myself."

Ozuna also came up big in the eighth inning, throwing out David Wright trying to score the tying run. Both plays were challenged to see if Saltalamacchia had blocked the plate improperly. Both calls were confirmed.

"Definitely an exciting finish," Saltalamacchia said. "Ozuna made two game-saving throws, probably two of the best throws I've ever been a part of as a catcher."

Ozuna, now with four assists on the season, is the first Marlins outfielder to record two assists at home plate in a game since Joe Orsulak on Sept. 7, 1996, against Montreal.

"I wasn't responding with the offense, but at the least I stayed positive and said, 'I'll respond with the defense,'" Ozuna said.

After the Marlins built a three-run lead in the seventh, the Mets rallied for two runs in the eighth, both charged to Kevin Gregg. A leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Young set the stage for the dramatic inning. With one out, Wright's RBI single to center put New York on the board and prompted Redmond to bring in Mike Dunn. Curtis Granderson walked on four pitches, and Dunn surrendered a run-scoring single to left to pinch-hitter Eric Campbell.

Wright, on second, raced home with the potential tying run, but Ozuna's perfect strike to Saltalamacchia was in plenty of time for the out, the outfielder's third assist of the season. Dunn escaped further trouble by striking out pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores.

"He made a great play on David," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I thought David was going to be in there easy."

Alvarez has compiled 18 1/3 straight scoreless innings against the Mets, dating back to April 25. He threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings, lowering his ERA at Marlins Park this season to 1.44. The right-hander exited after 94 pitches and with a runner on first.

Blanked 1-0 by Zack Wheeler on Thursday night, the Marlins wasted little time pushing across a run for Alvarez on Friday.

Rafael Furcal tripled to deep right field in the first inning off Daisuke Matsuzaka, and he scored on Adeiny Hechavarria's RBI groundout to second.

The quick run was the only one Miami managed off Matsuzaka, who exited after 5 1/3 innings, scattering six hits while striking out four.

Miami manufactured a couple of runs in the seventh inning off Vic Black. The speed of Jake Marisnick, who singled and stole two bases, got the inning rolling.

Justin Bour drew a pinch-hit walk and Marisnick swiped third and dashed home when catcher Anthony Recker's throw sailed past Wright into left field. The second run scored on Hechavarria's double that Wright tried to make a barehanded play on, but the ball bounced off his hand into left.

Alvarez caused some concern in the third inning when his left hamstring tightened after striking out Matsuzaka with a 94-mph fastball. Assistant trainer Mike Kozak and pitching coach Chuck Hernandez made the trip to the mound.

After throwing one warmup pitch, Alvarez continued.

"It was a good start," Alvarez said. "All my pitches were working well. That's good to see. Now, it's just about going forward."

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