PITTSBURGH -- Ozzie Guillen is usually quick to give an answer for any question.
But even Guillen was left speechless as to why the Marlins keep coming up short.
“I don’t know what to say anymore,” Guillen said. “I was thinking during the game what do I tell the media when they ask why we lost. I’ve said everything I could say already.”
Pitcher Anibal Sanchez gave the Marlins a quality start, but more offensive futility wasted the effort in a 3-0 loss that completed a three-game sweep for the host Pirates in front of a crowd of 34,203.
Sanchez went seven innings and struck out eight, but he couldn’t prevent the Marlins’ fifth consecutive defeat that moved them to a season-worst seven games under .500.
Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens gave up five hits and two walks in seven scoreless innings, combining with Jared Hughes and Joel Hanrahan (28th save) for the shutout, which was the Marlins’ 10th this season and seventh on the road.
The Marlins (44-51) finished the road trip with a 1-5 record and have scored seven runs during the losing streak.
“This stretch has been terrible,” catcher Brett Hayes said. “We’ve been playing like crap. It seems like nothing is going well right now. We’re not going to give up. The effort is there. We’re playing hard, but for whatever reason it’s always something.”
For Sanchez, it could have been his final such performance in a Marlins uniform.
The 28-year-old right-hander, who fell to 5-7 with a 3.94 ERA for the season, has been mentioned as a potential trade piece before the July 31 trade deadline.
“I don’t have a problem with that,” Sanchez said. “At this time of year, it is the trade times. I’m going to be a free agent at the end of the year. But it’s not like I feel pressure because of it.”
According to an online blog post by Fox Sports, Sanchez was being scouted Sunday by the Tigers and the Red Sox, the team that drafted him. Sanchez is scheduled to make one more start before the deadline, July 28 at home against the Padres.
“Whether they trade me or not, I will always be grateful to this team,” Sanchez said. “They have always treated me really well. I can only control what I can control. I will go to the stadium [Monday] early like I always do and start preparing for my next start. I think the team has a lot of responsibilities, and it’s a hard position for them to be in right now.”
Sanchez gave up a run in the first inning when National League batting leader Andrew McCutchen lined a single to center field to score Alex Presley.
But Sanchez was sharp after that, retiring 12 batters from the end of the second inning to the sixth when McCutchen singled again with two outs.
The crushing blow for Sanchez and the Marlins came in the bottom of the seventh when following a Casey McGehee double, third baseman Pedro Alvarez smacked a breaking ball over the right-center-field fence.
“I just made a mistake in the seventh inning and cost us two runs,” Sanchez said. “He waited for the pitch, and it was one I didn’t throw the whole game. I tried to get a ground ball out of it, but he hit it good, and I paid for it.”
The Marlins once again squandered chances at the plate to support Sanchez.
In the top of the seventh inning, Omar Infante grounded into an inning-ending double play after the Marlins put runners on first and second. The play came one pitch after the umpire reversed a call on a diving attempt by Presley to catch a fly ball by Greg Dobbs.
The umpires originally ruled Presley had caught the ball but reversed it when Guillen argued the ruling. Logan Morrison, who was at second base, was a little more than halfway to third base when Presley dove and went back to second when the call was made. Morrison argued, along with Guillen, that he should be granted third base because of the reversal, but the umpires did not allow it.
“The umpires said in their judgment that when he caught the ball, I wouldn’t have made it to third,” Morrison said. “I was more than halfway to third. You know if I go to third there, who is to say Omar doesn’t ground into the double play. Maybe they pitch him different. But that’s the way it goes.”
The Marlins also had four runners on base in the first inning on two hits and two walks and had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
Jose Reyes led off the inning with a single, but was picked off by Karstens at first.
It would prove costly as they later loaded the bases with two outs following an infield single by Emilio Bonifacio, a walk to Carlos Lee and, two batters later, a walk to Justin Ruggiano. Dobbs flied out to right to end the inning.
“It’s just been a weird trip,” Guillen said. “Yesterday, [Pittsburgh] got four runs without a hit in an inning. [Sunday], we start with two hits and two walks and we don’t score. That should tell you how we’re playing right now.”