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Alvarez hits 98 mph on radar gun in first win as a Marlin

It's not often you see a starting pitcher hit 98 on the radar gun for a strike.

Henderson Alvarez, though, is one of those guys that can.

The 23-year old right-hander from Venezuela did so a couple times Friday night including when he blew a heater past Pirates first baseman Gaby Sanchez in the second inning.

Alvarez, who notched his first win for the Marlins since being acquired last winter in that blockbuster deal with the Blue Jays, tied a season-high with five strike outs while giving up just two hits and a walk over six innings before being lifted for a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded in the sixth.

If not for the Pirates being the best pitching team in the NL, manager Mike Redmond would have let Alvarez pitch much deeper into the game. He threw just 72 pitches total, 51 for strikes.

"I'm happy about the win, thankful for my teammates who picked me up," said Alvarez, who has thrown 13 scoreless innings since the All-Star break.

"I felt good today. I was throwing hard in the bullpen. I was a little surprised to hit 98. I haven't thrown that hard yet."

Catcher Jeff Mathis, who caught the young pitcher in Toronto, said Alvarez opened the game by throwing a 92-mile per hour sinker for a strike.

"He threw the ball real well," Mathis said. "It's fun to watch him grow and get more innings under his belt. Last year he would be at 95-97 the whole time through the first two innings. Today he dug down deep for a couple big outs."

Redmond was pleased with Alvarez's effort.

"That was a great performance. He came out there and was just aggressive, throwing hard. That's the hardest I've seen him throw," Redmond said. "You could tell he was pumped up. Even the bullpen guys. They went out there and they were turning it loose. That's good when you're playing a good team, a playoff team, it's good to see guys take it up a notch, step up and take it to the next level."