The Marlins’ bullpen has been a big part of the team’s disaster of a season, with Heath Bell taking much of the heat for Miami’s failure to close games out.
On Tuesday, Bell helped salvage what could have been a lost the night for the Marlins.
The Marlins coughed up a 3-0 lead in the ninth, but thanks to a strong 10th by Bell and a bloop single to right by Jose Reyes, Miami pulled off a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park.
“Wow. That was, ‘Ugh,’ ” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Well, it’s always nice to win the game. Especially for us, since we haven’t won that many. We’re excited. But we lost the lead in the ninth, and ... hoo-boy what a way to do it. Thank God, Jose came up with a big hit.”
Bell put the Braves down in order after his bullpen mates blew what should have been rookie Nathan Eovaldi’s fourth win with the Marlins. Eovaldi watched the lead he handed over after eight innings get torched in a matter of moments, although Bell extinguished the Braves to give Reyes yet another chance to win it.
Miami had two runners on with two outs after Rob Brantly walked and Gorkys Hernandez was hit by a pitch. Reyes reached out on a 3-2 pitch from Cory Gearrin and dropped it in right in front of a diving Jason Heyward.
“I just wanted a hit,” Reyes said. “I got a bloop in on that change. It was a good pitch to hang, but I got through. We had the lead in the ninth and couldn’t get it. We’re happy to get the win. It puts us in a position to win the series [Wednesday].”
Miami’s bullpen woes almost overshadowed a strong performance from Eovaldi.
Eovaldi left Tuesday’s game after giving up four hits in eight scoreless innings. Closer Steve Cishek then promptly gave up a leadoff double to Heyward and walked Chipper Jones. With one out, Dan Uggla singled in Heyward to make it 3-1.
The Marlins pulled Cishek, but the move didn’t work as lefty Mike Dunn gave up Brian McCann’s two-run double to left to tie it.
Miami almost pulled it out in the ninth as Reyes led off with a single then advanced when shortstop Paul Janish dislocated his left shoulder diving to his right to snare Carlos Lee’s grounder. Reyes then took third on a passed ball.
Despite having a runner at third with no outs, Miami couldn’t capitalize. Both Justin Ruggiano and Bryan Petersen struck out against Jonny Venters before John Buck grounded out against Cory Gearrin.
Eovaldi pitched eight innings for the first time in his short major-league career. But Guillen pulled him after 115 pitches, and the bullpen collapsed.
Eovaldi got strong as the game went on, snapping a 96-mph fastball past Martin Prado on his 107th pitch of the night. Eovaldi got a standing ovation as he walked off the mound in the eighth.
“You look at him throwing 95, 96 in the eighth,” Guillen said. “The most important thing for him was location. He made those guys swing the bat. He was outstanding.”
Despite going down in order in four innings against Braves starter Paul Maholm, Miami picked its spots.
Buck, Miami’s much-maligned catcher, raised his average above the .200 mark as he got his first triple of the year to lead off the third and scored on Hernandez’s two-out single. With two outs in the seventh, Buck hit a two-run homer to right off reliever Chad Durbin.