On the eve of Heath Bell’s return to South Florida, the pitcher who took the place of the much-reviled closer in the Marlins bullpen brought back memories of his predecessor.
Steve Cishek coughed it up Thursday in a 5-3 loss to Cincinnati.
Just after the Marlins rallied in the ninth to tie the score and send it into extra innings, the Reds erupted for three runs off Cishek, whose record fell to 1-4 with the loss in the 10th.
“He’s not getting consistent reps,” said manager Mike Redmond of Cishek, who has had few opportunities to pitch to his role, with a lead in the ninth. “He’s not getting to pitch that much. Tonight we got him in there because he needed to pitch.”
If fans were planning to boo Bell upon his arrival Friday with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cishek provided them with reason to work their vocal chords into shape with Thursday’s rough outing.
After the Reds loaded the bases off Cishek, Brandon Phillips put Cincinnati in front with a sacrifice fly and Jay Bruce drove in two more runs with a double to bring out the boo birds in the crowd of 16,680.
And so the Marlins were swept in a three-game series for the fifth time this season and have lost eight of their past nine games. If they lose the series opener to Arizona on Friday, their record will fall to 11-31 and match the franchise-worst start of the 2006 Marlins.
Cishek would have never been put in a position to fail had the Marlins not discovered a bit of offensive life in the ninth, when Adeiny Hechavarria tripled off Reds starter Mat Latos and Marcell Ozuna delivered a game-tying triple off closer Aroldis Chapman.
It was Chapman’s first blown save of the season. But the “Cuban Missile” was gifted with the win when the Reds bounced back in the 10th to defeat the Marlins for the sixth time in seven meetings this season.
As usual, it was another dull night at the plate for the Marlins.
Juan Pierre surprised with a leadoff home run to start the game, smiling and pumping his fist over his rare deed. It was only his 18th home run in more than 7,300 career at-bats.
“It’s about the only time you’ll see me smiling on the baseball field,” Pierre said.
But Latos all but turned off the tap after that, holding the Marlins scoreless with only three more hits until the ninth.
Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez was nearly his equal.
Fernandez went seven innings and totaled a career-high 99 pitches, exceeding his previous high of 86. For the most part, they were seven solid innings for the 20-year-old, too.
He didn’t relinquish his first hit until Shin-Soo Choo bunted his way on with two outs in the third, and Fernandez removed the Reds’ on-base machine from the picture with a successful pickoff throw to first.
But the Reds came up with a pair of big two-out hits off Fernandez that ended up costing him.
The first came in the fourth when Jay Bruce lined a single to left, scoring Joey Votto from second. The second came in the sixth when Phillips put Fernandez’s first pitch to him in the Clevelander club beyond the right-field wall, giving the Reds a 2-1 lead.
“I wanted to surprise him inside,” Fernandez said of the pitch to Phillips. “It was in the strike zone.”
In the end, it was just another loss for the Marlins.
“I know it’s tough, looks ugly,” Pierre said. “It’s the stuff that makes you stronger for the rest of your career. Nobody believes in you, but you keep fighting. You remember these times.”