ST. PETERSBURG -- It was a repeat ending to a wretched road trip.
At least the Marlins didn’t have far to travel after concluding a winless five-game road trip with a 7-6 loss to their upstate baseball neighbors, the Tampa Bay Rays.
If Tuesday’s walk-off defeat on Desmond Jennings’ two-out single in the ninth had a familiar feel to it, it’s because the Marlins lost two other games during the trip in identical manner.
“Anytime you get walked off three times on a road trip, that’s tough,’’ manager Mike Redmond said following the latest sudden-ender, the third time in five days the Marlins have watched the other team celebrate a win in the final at-bat.
And so the Marlins, losers of seven in a row, have now lost exactly three times as many games as they have lost. Their record of 13-39 gives them a winning percentage of .250.
Only three teams since 1900 have finished with a .250 winning percentage or worse:
• The 1916 Philadelphia Athletics went 36-117 (.235).
• The 1935 Boston Braves went 38-115 (.248).
• The 1962 New York Mets went 40-120 (.250).
Given the fact the Marlins are expecting reinforcements in the form of players returning from the disabled list, few expect them to continue at this pace for the duration of the season.
But the season, and May in particular, has been a disaster. With three games remaining in May, the Marlins are 5-20 for the month. The worst month in team history: 5-23 in June 2011.
The Marlins blew a comfortable lead in their latest loss, and saw their bullpen collapse late, with Ryan Webb, Mike Dunn and finally, Chad Qualls, involved in the setback.
“We coughed up two leads,’’ Redmond said. “We had a couple of chances to shut them down and win that ballgame.’’
It didn’t happen.
Marlins starter Kevin Slowey didn’t factor in the decision.
Slowey entered Tuesday’s game with the second-lowest number of runs scored for him — 16 — of any major-league pitcher with at least 10 starts. Only the Mets’ Dillon Gee, the recipient of 14 runs, had received less.
But the Marlins hitters were in rare form early, touching Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson for a run in the second and three more in the third to provide Slowey with a 4-0 lead. Chris Coghlan and Derek Dietrich each supplied run-scoring triples in the third.
A couple of infield singles to start the third for the Rays manifested into a two-run inning, and Tampa Bay cut the lead to 4-3 in the fourth on a RBI double by Yunel Escobar.
Thanks to a Coghlan home run in the sixth — his first of the season — Slowey left with a 5-3 lead with one out and a runner aboard in the sixth.
But the bullpen didn’t do its part.
After Ryan Webb took over, though, the lead quickly vanished. Webb walked Jennings on four pitches before giving up a two-run double to Jose Lobaton that tied the score.
It was a rough road trip for Webb, who had been one of the Marlins’ most reliable relievers. Webb was on the mound, and the pitcher of record, in back-to-back, walk-off losses to the White Sox on Friday and Saturday.
Still, the Marlins managed to regain the lead in the eighth when Marcell Ozuna singled to start the inning and ended up scoring on Greg Dobbs’ two-out single off Joel Peralta.
Just like their earlier lead, however, that one didn’t stick, either.
Yunel Escobar, who was obtained by the Marlins in their big trade with Toronto before being flipped to the Rays after he informed them he didn’t want to play third base, tied it in the eighth off Mike Dunn with a RBI single.
Dunn gave up back-to-back singles to start the ninth before retiring the Rays’ next two batters. But manager Mike Redmond brought in the right-hander Qualls to face Desmond, who smoked an 0-1 pitch into right for the game-winner.