Christian Yelich had a career night at the plate Tuesday night, twice tying the game with late hits. But he ended up on the wrong side of a 13-inning loss.
The Marlins' No. 2 prospect went 5-for-6 with a homer, two triples, two RBIs and two runs scored in Double-A Jacksonville's 5-4 setback to visiting Pensacola.
"I thought it was good, but I wish we could have pulled out the win," Yelich said. "They came right after me and I got good pitches to hit and I put some good swings on them."
The five hits tied a career high, while the two triples were a personal best. He went 5-for-5 last Aug. 31 in Class A Advanced Jupiter's 4-3 loss to Palm Beach.
Yelich had legged out nine triples in 970 Minor League at-bats before Tuesday's game, but he collected two in the first three innings.
"I put a good swing on it and it got over his head," Yelich said of his first three-base hit. "We have a big park and if it gets to the center field fence you have a chance for three. The second one went down the right-field line and rattled around in the corner. I tried for three and ended up making it."
Yelich singled to center field with two outs in the fifth before grounding out to second base in the seventh after getting ahead in the count, 3-0.
MLB.com's No. 13 overall prospect then singled home Audy Ciriaco with one out in the ninth to forge a 3-3 tie and slugged a leadoff homer in the 12th off Wilkin De La Rosa to knot the game again, 4-4.
"He was making some good pitches and I was just trying to put something in play," Yelich said of his ninth-inning hit off reliever Drew Hayes. "It ended up finding a hole. You're always trying to get a pitch to hit, you're always trying to be short to the ball.
"[The home run] was off a hard-throwing lefty and he left the pitch over the middle. I put a good swing on it and we have a short porch here in right field."
The outing raised Yelich's average 52 points to .333 and took his RBI total to 13 in 15 games. He's 21-for-59 during a 13-game hitting streak after going 0-for-4 in his Double-A debut on April 20.
"It was a lot of fun," Jacksonville manager Andy Barkett said. "The night Christian had and the way the guys kept battling and never gave up, you have to be proud of the effort.
"It was one of the most impressive displays of a young hitter I have ever seen tonight. It was fun to watch him play and swing the bat and spin on pitches and wait on his pitch and get in good counts. And then, when they threw it in there, he would center it up. It was fun to watch."
Yelich bruised his heel in a Major League Spring Training game against the Yankees on March 15, an injury he aggravated by jamming it on a base after he was assigned to Minor League camp. He missed the first two weeks of the season, but you'd never know it from his hot start.
"The year started off a little rough, coming back off the disabled list," said Yelich, selected 23rd overall in the 2010 Draft. "I started feeling a little bit better the last couple days and hopefully I can keep it rolling. Last year, I got back [from an injury] kind of fast, but it was longer this year. You have to find your timing and get back to the rhythm. It feels good to be 100 percent healthy.
"Hitting is a lot of feel, a lot of being on time and getting a good pitch to hit and being in a position to hit. Baseball is a tough game and you have your ups and downs, and you try to ride the hot streaks and minimize the slumps."
Jacksonville starter Jay Jackson allowed a run on three hits while striking out five over five innings to lower his ERA to 1.06, while Pensacola's Chad Rogers fanned eight over five one-run innings.
De La Rosa (1-1) fanned three over two innings to get the win. Collin Cargill (0-1) yielded two runs on three hits and a walk in two innings for the Suns.