Since the middle of June, the Marlins’ pitching staff has put up the third-best ERA in Major League Baseball.
On Saturday, they had a rare recent off night.
Less than 24 hours after piecing together their third shutout of the season, the Marlins surrendered 14 hits — including six doubles and a triple — in a 7-4 loss to the Pirates in front of an announced crowd of 22,410 at Marlins Park.
Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler, who was 2-0 with a 2.74 ERA in his four previous starts, got tagged for five earned runs in his first three innings and didn’t make it past the fifth.
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That turned out to be more than enough for the team with the second-best record in the National League, whose bullpen shut the door on the Marlins (39-63) after they rallied with three runs in the third to trim a 5-1 deficit to a run.
But the Marlins couldn’t get the big hit they needed.
Donovan Solano, who drove in the Marlins’ first run with a two-out RBI single to right off Pirates starter Charlie Morton in the first, got two chances to be the big hero when he stepped to the plate with runners in scoring position in the fifth and seventh.
But the 25-year-old second baseman, the 12th different Marlin to bat fifth in the lineup this season, bounced into a crushing double play with nobody out in the fifth against Morton, and then again bounced out to short with two outs and two on in the seventh against Bryan Morris.
Koehler (2-6) ended up throwing 109 pitches (69 for strikes), gave up nine hits and three walks and struck out six.
Before Saturday, Marlins starters had a run of six consecutive games in which they pitched six innings and allowed two runs or less. According to Elias, that was one game shy of the team record set in June 2002. They also had not allowed more than three runs in 30 of their past 34 games.
It didn’t take the Pirates long to put an end to that stellar six-game run.
Pittsburgh put up three quick runs in the first on doubles to left by Sterling Marte, Neil Walker and Garrett Jones and a two-out single by Michael McKenry. Four more hits by Pittsburgh in the third — all singles by Walker, Andrew McCutchen, Jones and McKenry — made it 5-1.
McKenry, who came in hitting .191, put up a career-high four hits to raise his average to .217.
The Marlins, the worst offensive team in baseball, put together a nice rally in the third. Rookie Christian Yelich, who picked up two more singles Saturday, started it with a line drive to center and advanced to second when the ball bounced off the glove of McCutchen.
Giancarlo Stanton then doubled to the wall in left and scored when Logan Morrison ripped the first of his three hits to left. Morrison, who advanced to second on an errant throw from the outfield, eventually scored on Placido Polanco’s two-out single to right.
Stanton and Morrison opened the fifth with back-to-back singles, but the rally was quickly quelled when Solano bounced into a double play. Polanco struck out swinging with Stanton standing on third to end the threat.
Stanton, who finished with three hits, has now had three consecutive multihit games for the first time since May 2012 — the last time he was the National League’s Player of the Month.
Morton (3-2) lasted just five innings for the Pirates. He gave up nine hits and three earned runs but didn’t walk anybody and struck out six. The Pirates’ bullpen walked three, but gave up just two hits over the final four innings.