Cooper’s hit helps Marlins rally, avoid sweep by Reds amid growing injury concerns

Injuries have left the Marlins’ outfield in flux and without one of their top relievers for the time being.

But at least getting back one of their top bats on Sunday helped.

Garrett Cooper’s go-ahead double to center in the bottom of the seventh inning scored Garrett Hampson and put the Marlins ahead for good as they hung on for a 3-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. The win avoided the Marlins getting swept for the second consecutive series at home after Atlanta took all three games from May 2-4.

“It’s just nice to have Cooper back in the lineup,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “He’s a big presence and he does damage. Up and down the lineup, I thought we had good at-bats.”

Cooper, who returned after missing 11 games with an inner ear infection, went 2 for 4 and came around to score two batters later on an RBI single by Bryan De La Cruz, who went 3 for 4 with an RBI.

“It started before I went on the IL and I tried playing through it for about 10 days,” Cooper said. “It got to the point where you’re not seeing pitches at the plate so you have to take some time off and get some medicine and get back to feeling like yourself...To go through that three-week equilibrium training and get back to feeling 100 percent was good.”

Cooper’s return was the only positive news for the Marlins (20-21) on Sunday on the injury front.

The team placed Jesus Sanchez on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain and placed reliever AJ Puk on the 15-day IL with left elbow nerve irritation. With Puk out, Dylan Floro picked up his second save of the season.

And as of Sunday afternoon, it was still unclear whether center fielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. would have to go on the IL as well.

Schumaker said before the game that Chisholm Jr. was dealing with turf toe and would see a specialist on Monday to determine the extent of the injury.

Marlins starter Braxton Garrett delivered a solid start, striking out a season-high eight over five innings and allowing one run on three hits and one walk.

“The cutter he developed - his new pitch - a couple of weeks ago,” Schumaker said. “It expands his repertoire inside, outside, up and down. He can throw it inside on righties and it opens up the changeup and the sinker away. I thought Fortes did a great job navigating that game with him. He’s always had the curveball but the cutter was the difference maker today.”

Garrett’s outing was a turnaround after two previous rough outings in May in which he gave up a combined 15 earned runs over 9 ⅔ innings.

“The cutter has been huge,” Garrett said. “Even in the last start it was huge to just get guys off my sink and slide. It’s just a good pitch to get in on righties.”