MIAMI (AP) — Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is having fun watching Ivan Nova pitch.
“It’s a blast,” Hurdle said. “I don’t think you should ever take it for granted.”
Nova pitched a three-hitter and the Pirates beat the Miami Marlins 4-0 on Saturday night.
“It feels good to go the distance,” Nova said. “Every time when you’re going to start a game you think you want to go the whole game and a lot of times it doesn’t happen. But once you complete it, it feels amazing.”
Nova (3-2) struck out seven and did not walk a batter in the 95-pitch masterpiece. It was his fifth complete game in 16 starts with Pittsburgh since being acquired from the New York Yankees last August.
“He’s been a pro,” Hurdle said. “I think he had 13 guys retired in three pitches or less, only three three-ball counts. It’s a perfect recipe for somebody to go out there and pitch really, really well.”
He retired 11 in a row at one point in handing Miami its fourth straight loss.
“He was able to make them swing the bat quick,” Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli said. “That’s his strength. He’s going to throw strikes and they know. This guy was making pitches all night.”
Nova continued his impressive start to the season, which includes walking just one batter over 27 innings as he lowered his ERA to 1.50 while tossing his second complete game and the eighth of his career.
“He looked pretty good,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “It seemed like he had the ball on both sides of the plate. He used his change-up a little more than we thought tonight. Obviously, he gave us a lot of trouble, kind of that sinker. He threw a few four-seamers.”
John Jaso homered and drove in two runs, Jordy Mercer knocked in a run, and Gregory Polanco had two doubles for the Pirates, who have won three straight.
Dan Straily (1-2) nearly matched Nova through five innings allowing only one run before running into trouble in the sixth when he allowed a base hit followed by three consecutive walks including Cervelli with the bases loaded ending his outing.
“We know him since last year we faced him a lot,” Cervelli said. “He’s the kind of guy that likes to make his pitches. Sometimes he’s makes good pitches, but sometimes these guys here just wait, wait, wait for the pitches they want.”
Brad Ziegler came in and walked Jaso with the bases loaded giving the Pirates a 3-0 lead.
Straily allowed three runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out five after a 14-strikeout performance in his last start at San Diego.
“Some nights the only way you’re going to win is go out and throw all zeroes,” Straily said. “Tonight was one of those nights and I wasn’t able to get it done.”
Jaso’s home run in the ninth, his first of the season, pushed the Pittsburgh lead to 4-0.
Polanco doubled down the left-field line to lead off the second inning. Mercer drove in Polanco with a two-out single up the middle for the early lead.
Pittsburgh third baseman Josh Harrison made an impressive diving catch midway up the third-base line on a bunt attempt by Dee Gordon in the sixth.
Harrison also made another impressive defensive play in the eighth when he dived to his left on a hard-hit grounder by J.T. Realmuto to start a double play.
“He’s a fearless defender,” Hurdle said.
McCUTCHEN EXTENDS ON-BASE STREAK
Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen reached base with a walk in the sixth to extend his streak of reaching base to 18 games, the longest active streak in the majors.
Pirates: 3B David Freese (hamstring) was placed on the 10-day DL retroactive to April 25. OF Danny Ortiz’s contract was selected from Triple-A Indianapolis in a corresponding move and he made his Major League debut as a defensive replacement in the seventh.
Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-2, 6.63 ERA) will start the series finale on Sunday. Kuhl allowed nine runs in 1 2-3 innings in a 14-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs in his last start.
Marlins: RHP Tom Koehler (1-1, 5.14) will take the mound looking for his first win against the Pirates. Koehler is 0-4 with a 5.14 ERA in five career starts against Pittsburgh.