Marlins manager Don Mattingly was looking for more energy from his team in their first game home in nearly two weeks.
By the time the Pirates were done hitting in the second inning Friday, the only noise heard in Marlins Park was the constant drumbeat coming from the fans celebrating Puerto Rican Heritage Night.
The Pirates took advantage of some control issues by Adam Conley as he gave up nine runs – eight of which came in the second inning – in an ugly 12-2 defeat at Marlins Park – the team’s third in a row.
"Just from my end of it, there’s no excuse," Conley said. "I wasn’t really locating the fastball which for me is my bread and butter pitch. I think this season up to now I’ve thrown it about 70 percent of the time and that’s a pitch I could have really used tonight."
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The Marlins (10-11) suffered their worst loss since Sept. 27 of last season at home against the Mets. The loss snapped a six-game winning streak against the Pirates that started last season after a 10-0 home defeat to Pittsburgh.
The Marlins were coming off their longest trip in franchise history in terms of distance (7,193 miles) having gone to Seattle, San Diego and Philadelphia. They went 3-5 over the eight-game, 11-day trip that had two off days and a rainout.
"I think Adam’s right physically," Mattingly said. "The only other thing you can look at is he had gone long about seven days since last start so maybe he got out of his routine.
"He just didn’t have any fastball command today."
Conley, whose ERA jumped from 3.00 coming into the game to 6.86, had not pitched since the previous Friday in San Diego and had his start pushed back due to a rained out game in Philadelphia.
Conley gave up nine earned runs Friday in only 1 2/3 innings – the worst start of his young career.
He gave up only five hits, but walked three and hit a batter in a nightmarish second inning in which the Pirates sent 15 batters to the plate.
It was the most runs allowed by the Marlins in an inning since they allowed eight on April 21, 2013 in Cincinnati.
It wasn’t Conley’s shortest-ever start. That came last season on April 7th at Washington when he lasted only one inning against the Nationals.
That day a prolonged rain delay prompted Conley’s removal from the game.
On Friday, Mattingly took him out after he gave up seven runs in the second - all coming with two outs. Conley threw 60 pitches overall with 41 of them coming in that inning. Conley allowed the first run to Mercer on a solo homer to left center on the game’s second at-bat.
"I don’t even want to say it was bad luck or sit here and say something that’s a copout," Conley said. "It did not go well and I did not throw well. I’m moving on."
With Pirates leading 1-0 and the bases loaded, Josh Harrison hit a ground ball far too deep in the hole between second and third that didn’t allow shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to turn and throw to first in time allowing the second run to score.
Then, the wheels came off.
Conley walked his third batter of the inning, Jordy Mercer, to force in the third run. Andrew McCutchen singled home two more runs to make it 5-0.
After Conley hit Gregory Polanco with a pitch, Francisco Cervelli – hitting for the second time in the inning – delivered the big blow when he dropped a ball into left field that bounced right in front of a diving Marcell Ozuna and got past him to the warning track allowing three runs to score.
"You’re hoping he’s going to get out of that, but then the base hit to left that bounces by [Ozuna] and that’s a pretty good nail in the coffin at that point," Mattingly said. "We just couldn’t get [reliever Jose] Urena warmed up quick enough at that point."
Urena replaced Conley, and gave up another run on a single to Jose Osuna.
In hopes of conserving the bullpen, Urena pitched 4 1/3 innings despite giving up 12 hits. Urena was able to limit the damage from those dozen hits to only two more runs. Urena, who had not pitched since April 17 at Seattle, threw 86 pitches.
Urena, who has fluctuated between starting and relieving during his career, has had to adjust to an unpredictable long relief role so far this season, but has been effective with a 2.92 ERA in 12 1/3 innings.
"You never know if something can happen, so you have to be ready for any situation," Urena said. "That’s part of my role."
The Marlins scored their first run in the third when Martin Prado hit a slow bouncer up the third base line for an infield single that drove in Hechavarria three batters after he led off the inning with a triple. Giancarlo Stanton added a second in the eighth inning on a single.
"I thought our at-bats were great tonight," Mattingly said. "I really thought our offense did a good job it’s just one of those games that got away early and spiraled on us."