MIAMI — Miami Marlins center fielder Marcell Ozuna stood 90 feet from home as the game-winning run with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning.
Teammate Christian Yelich, who had been held hitless in his previous four at-bats, faced a difficult lefty-lefty matchup with Philadelphia Phillies reliever Jake Diekman.
"I just think, ‘Don’t leave me here,’ " Ozuna said. " ‘Put the ball in play and see what happens.’ "
Yelich produced an RBI single for his first career walk-off hit as the Marlins beat the Phillies 4-3 Thursday afternoon at Marlins Park.
With the victory, Miami (25-23) has captured seven of its first eight home series to open 2014. The Marlins are a major-league best 19-6 at home this season, marking the best 25-game stretch in franchise history.
Ozuna got the rally started with a one-out single to right. After Adeiny Hechavarria flied out to the warning track in left, Jeff Mathis singled through the hole at short and pinch-hitter Reed Johnson reached on an infield single. Yelich connected on a 1-1 pitch for a single up the middle.
Entering Thursday, Diekman had not given up an earned run to the Marlins in seven career innings. Yelich was batting .349 against left-handers this season but had seen Diekman just once (an out).
"He’s nasty man, lefty who throws 97, 99," Yelich said of Diekman. "You can’t really do too much against those guys, especially a situation like that. You’re probably only going to get one or two pitches to do something with. Keep it simple and not try to do too much."
For Yelich, it marked his first walk-off hit since playing for the Single-A Jupiter Hammerheads. The Marlins have now won four of their past seven home games in walk-off fashion. They have five total.
"That’s kind of why you hang with them the whole game," Yelich said. "Fortunately I was lucky enough to come up with guys in scoring position at the end of the game and I was able to come through."
What could’ve been a frustrating loss quickly turned into a celebration.
After starter Henderson Alvarez went seven shutout innings and left with a 3-0 lead, relievers A.J. Ramos and Mike Dunn gave up three runs in the eighth.
"It was huge for the offense to come around and pick me up right there," said Dunn, who surrendered Marlon Byrd’s two-out, two-run blast to center. "It was great to get the W."
Added manager Mike Redmond: "If we had lost that game it would’ve been a tough one. It was fitting to get (Yelich) up there at the end. He’s been in a couple of those situations where he’s had a chance to get a big hit and hasn’t come up with one. I was sitting thinking this would be a perfect day for him to get a big hit and sure enough he did."