The Marlins mustered 13 hits Friday.
The first came from Jose Reyes — his first leadoff home run in over two years.
But another failure in the “timely hitting” department kept the effort from translating into victory.
Reyes went 3 for 5 with his 17th career leadoff home run, but he struck out in the ninth against Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan as the Marlins lost 4-3 in front of 37,193 at PNC Park on Friday night.
The Marlins (44-49) went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
Miami let an early two-run lead slip away, as the Pirates (52-40) delivered two big home runs off Ricky Nolasco to send the Marlins to their third consecutive loss.
“It seems like we’re rewinding a movie,” Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said. “We had a few opportunities, and we don’t get it done early. Then late, we get a few more and we can’t get it done. That’s been hurting us for a long time.”
The slide continues to damage the Marlins in what could be the team’s most crucial series of the season.
With the July 31 Major League Baseball trade deadline approaching and speculation growing as to what kind of moves the Marlins might make, if any, they missed another chance to gain ground on the teams ahead of them in the playoff race.
“The game started very good for us, but I get three hits and we don’t win; I feel like I didn’t do anything,” Reyes said.
The Marlins also suffered a setback prior to Friday’s game.
Third baseman Hanley Ramirez was out for what could be the first of multiple games after he developed an infection near the laceration he sustained on his right hand when he punched a cooling fan July 8 in St. Louis. Ramirez went to see a doctor in Pittsburgh before the game.
Ramirez pinch ran during a ninth inning in which the Marlins put runners on first and third with one out for Reyes against Hanrahan, who picked up his 27th save. Reyes struck out on a ball in the dirt. Ramirez stole second on the pitch, but Hanrahan followed by striking out Emilio Bonifacio to end the game.
“It’s difficult because a loss is a loss,” Reyes said. “I wasn’t able to put the ball in play when we needed it. We need to continue to battle out there and hopefully see better results.”
Reyes blasted the second pitch of the game from Pirates starter Kevin Correia over the right-center field wall. Reyes’ fifth home run of the season was his first leadoff homer since June 19, 2010, as a member of the Mets.
Reyes has hit safely in eight consecutive games, but Friday’s game was his first during the streak with multiple hits. Bonifacio made the inning a little more productive with a single to left field that he followed up with a pair of stolen bases. He later scored on a groundout by Carlos Lee to give Miami an early 2-0 edge.
Nolasco, who left after the game without speaking to reporters, wasn’t able to contain the Pirates’ potent lineup in this park. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for Nolasco against the Pirates dating to 2009.
Nolasco finished with seven strikeouts but surrendered eight hits, including a pair of home runs that erased a 3-1 lead the Marlins took into the bottom of the fourth inning. Nolasco helped build that advantage with a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt that scored Omar Infante.
The Pirates answered immediately with two runs on three consecutive hits, started by third baseman Pedro Alvarez’s solo home run to right center and followed by a run-scoring single by Clint Barmes that followed a ground-rule double by catcher Rod Barajas.
Second baseman Neil Walker led off the bottom of the fifth with a homer to right field that put Pittsburgh ahead for good.
Walker kept the Marlins at bay in the eighth by turning a double play in which he reached to tag Justin Ruggiano between first and second — a play that was argued by Guillen to no avail. Guillen also argued a ground ball down the first-base line that Greg Dobbs hit in the sixth that appeared to graze his right leg as it came off the bat. Home-plate umpire Mark Wegner put his hands up to call it foul at first, but after a brief discussion among the umpires they ruled it a fair ball, resulting in an easy out.