ST. PETERSBURG -- Heath Bell was hoping Saturday’s extra-inning victory would turn out to be a potential “turning point” for the Marlins’ season. It wasn’t — at least not Sunday.
Whether the Marlins’ victory over the Rays in 15 exhausting innings becomes that remains to be seen. But this much is certain: It was one of the few times in franchise history that the Marlins prevailed in a marathon of such length.
With Saturday’s 4-3 after-midnight victory over the Rays, the Marlins are 3-6 in games going at least 15 innings. Scott Cousins tripled in the 15th to drive in the go-ahead run, and Bell struck out the side to preserve the win.
It was the longest game for the Marlins since their club-record 20-inning loss to the Cardinals on April 27, 2003, at Sun Life Stadium. In terms of the actual time of 5 hours 7 minutes, it was the fourth-longest — exactly one hour short of the ’03 game.
Relievers Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb received much of the praise by covering three scoreless innings each.
“I think the bullpen was definitely the MVP of the game,” Bell said.
Cousins, who started in center, singled, doubled and tripled.
“I think we might have found our center fielder,” Bell said. “I know it’s one game, but he came up here and was driving the ball and playing good defense. As long as he keeps doing what he’s doing, he can be a boost for us, kind of the energy that we need.”
Cousins wasn’t as successful Sunday, though. He struck out in each of his three at-bats.
The past eight outs recorded by Bell have been strikeouts.
Marlins hitting coach Eduardo Perez understands that scrutiny comes with the territory when the team isn’t producing offensively.
“This is a business, and it’s a production business, and if we don’t produce, yeah, you’re going to be looked at to see why the results aren’t coming,” Perez said one day after manager Ozzie Guillen defended the coach despite a poor offensive year so far. “You do what you have to do to get them ready.”
Perez said he thinks the players are perhaps guilty of thinking too much when they step into the batter’s box.
“The guys, right now, they’re battling,” Perez said. “And they understand. They understand they’re not getting it done.’’
Perez said age and inexperience are not excuses.
“We’re not a young team anymore,” he said. “That’s not an excuse anymore. ... This is a team that has to produce.”
• Slumping second baseman Omar Infante, who went 0 for 7 and struck out four times Saturday, was on the bench Sunday. Donovan Solano started in his place.
Infante has only two hits in his past 28 at-bats.
“I’ve been swinging at bad pitches,” Infante said. “I’m not reading the ball.”
• Monday: No game.
• Tuesday: Marlins LHP Mark Buehrle (5-7, 3.41 ERA) at Boston Red Sox RHP Clay Buchholz (7-2, 5.38), 7:10 p.m., Fenway Park.
• Wednesday: Marlins RHP Ricky Nolasco (6-5, 4.37) at Boston Red Sox LHP Felix Doubront (7-3, 4.17), 7:10 p.m., Fenway Park.
• Scouting report: The Marlins on Tuesday open a three-game series at Fenway Park, their first visit there since 2009. They are 6-9 all-time at Fenway.