CINCINNATI — Brayan Pena's tight hamstring gave Devin Mesoraco a chance to be the star.
Mesoraco homered twice, including his third grand slam of the season, and drove in a career-high six runs as the Cincinnati Reds salvaged the finale of a three-game series against the Miami Marlins with a 7-2 victory on Sunday.
Pena normally catches when Johnny Cueto pitches, but Reds manager Bryan Price determined he wasn't ready. So Mesoraco was in the lineup on Sunday afternoon after a night game.
"Devin took a foul ball off his arm yesterday but I had the good sense not to ask him about it before I made the lineup," Price said. "If there is any point in time that you run him out there, it is now when he's 26."
Brad Hand walked Todd Frazier with the bases loaded in the fifth to break a 2-all tie. Mesoraco followed with his second of the game and 20th of the season, a 371-foot drive into the left-field seats.
Mesoraco leads all major league catchers in home runs and the National League in grand slams. He is 6 for 7 (.857) with the bases loaded and is the sixth player in Reds history to hit three slams in one season — the first since Chris Sabo in 1993.
"When guys are in scoring position, your focus gets a little better," Mesoraco said. "I saw that guys weren't giving into to him (Hand) and I was looking for a pitch that I could hit and not miss it."
The fifth-inning outburst gave Cueto (14-6) some breathing room. In eight innings, he allowed five hits — two homers — with two walks and nine strikeouts. He improved to 6-0 in his last seven starts.
Hand (2-4) allowed five hits and seven runs with three walks — all in the fifth — and two strikeouts.
"He just couldn't get through the fifth," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "It came down to offense from one guy."
Giancarlo Stanton, the NL's home run and RBIs leader, lined his 29th homer with two outs in the first for a 1-0 Miami lead.
Right-fielder Jay Bruce made a leaping catch in the eighth to rob Stanton of a second homer.
Mesoraco gave the Reds a 2-1 lead in the first with his first homer in 10 games since July 30, a 390-foot blast that bounced off the roof of the Cincinnati bullpen in left-center with Bruce on first and two outs.
Casey McGehee tied the game with his third homer of the year, a 383-foot shot to left with one out in the fourth.
Marlins: The Marlins, who took a series from St. Louis in early July for the first time since 2009, will try to make it two straight over the Cardinals. Their three-game set in Miami begins Monday with right-hander Tom Koehler taking the mound.
Reds: Right-hander Mat Latos tries to improve his career interleague record to 10-3 in 18 starts on Tuesday in the opener of a two-game home series against Boston.
Reds: Pena's injury forced him out of Friday's game after two innings and limited him to a pinch-hit appearance on Saturday.
HOME RUN DERBY DROUGHT
Todd Frazier has not homered in his last 20 games and has just one home run since reaching the finals of the All-Star game Home Run Derby. Frazier has hit .310 in his last 14 games and doesn't feel the skills competition affected his swing. "If I was struggling I might think that," Frazier said. "Home runs come in bunches. I might hit three or four in a week. In Double-A in 2010 I went my first 115 at-bats without a home run and ended up with 17."
Johnny Cueto, nicknamed "Johnny Beisbol" by his teammates, is 9-1 in his last 10 decisions.
Stanton's homer was his fourth of the season off Reds' pitching, the most against any opponent. He has hit two off Cueto.
WINLESS IN CINCINNATI
Marlins left-handed starters are 0-6 in Cincinnati since Dontrelle Willis beat the Reds on August 7, 2005.