Ozzie Guillen said the reason the Marlins had been through a rough June was because their starting pitching was putting them in a hole.
“When you have good starters. Your bullpen is going to look awesome,” Guillen said.
Can’t blame the starters anymore.
Two days after wasting a two-hit, one-run, seven-inning gem from Josh Johnson, the Marlins bullpen collapsed late again Monday night and cost Ricky Nolasco a victory.
Closer Heath Bell gave up a two run-home run to Yadier Molina with two outs in the ninth and blew a four-run lead as the Cardinals rallied for an 8-7 victory in 10 innings in front of 27,369 at Marlins Park.
“We had definite momentum. I went out there and blew it,” said Bell, who had been the only dependable reliever in the Marlins bullpen this month.
Rafael Furcal doubled in the go-ahead run in the 10th before Joe Kelly, Wednesday’s starter for the Cardinals (39-35), drove in another run with an infield single to shortstop off Chad Gaudin.
The Marlins answered with a two-out RBI single by John Buck and had the tying run on second base with Jose Reyes, who had two big run-scoring hits early, at the plate in the 10th. But Jason Motte picked up his 15th save of the season when he got Reyes to line out to center to end it.
Bell, who hadn’t given up an earned run since May 26th (a span of 10 appearances and 9 1/3 innings), wasn’t charged with a blown save because he wasn’t eligible for it with a four-run lead.
“I wasn’t throwing strikes, plain and simple,” Bell said. “I need to mix it up a little bit more. I just went out there throwing fastballs and was basically throwing BP to the Cardinals. … So, you’ve got to tip your hat to them, but also slap me in the face because I [stunk] tonight. I let everybody down.”
The Marlins bullpen has now given up 58 earned runs this month in 73 combined innings of relief (7.15 ERA). They gave up 55 earned runs over 134 innings over the first two months of the season (3.69).
Nolasco, who was 0-3 with a 8.80 ERA in his three previous starts combined, became the second Marlins starter in a row not to surrender an earned run. Mark Buehrle on Sunday pitched seven scoreless innings, a day after Johnson gave up his only earned run over seven innings in the second.
Nolasco scattered four hits over 62/3 innings with one unearned run, but failed to pick up his first win since June 2, the day before the Marlins last won two games in a row.
Combined, Marlins starters haven’t given up an earned run over their last 19 2/3 innings. That’s not bad considering they started the month with a 5.22 ERA entering Saturday.
“We played a really good game today and came out with good energy and it just didn’t work out,” Nolasco said.
The Marlins got some help in the seventh from the Cardinals’ bullpen and a fortunate bounce off the bat of Matt Holliday to build their 6-1 lead.
After the Cardinals loaded the bases on a two-out error by second baseman Omar Infante, and then scored on a passed ball off the glove of John Buck to make it 2-1, Holliday sent a scorching ground ball that was going to get through the right side of the Marlins infield and score one, possibly two runs. But the ball bounced and hit Shane Robinson in his calf, who leaped to try to avoid it.
The Marlins then used four walks from the Cardinals bullpen in the seventh to expand their one-run lead to five. Reliever Eduardo Sanchez walked in two of the four runs the Marlins scored with free passes to Hanley Ramirez and Giancarlo Stanton. Logan Morrison then added to the lead by bouncing into a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded before Greg Dobbs made it a five-run lead with an infield single to short.
The Marlins bullpen, which came in with a 6.72 ERA in June, had a few shaky moments before Bell’s meltdown. But after Hanley Ramirez was charged with two errors on one play that led to the Cardinals’ second run in the eighth, left-hander Mike Dunn came in with runners on first and third and struck out Daniel Descalso and Matt Carpenter looking to end the threat.
“Very hard to watch, to be a part of that,” Guillen said. “You just got to sleep on it. Weak people carry it onto the next day. Strong people just go to sleep and hopefully come back [Tuesday].”