The bullpen was due to cave. On Monday it did.
Highly successful of late, the Marlins relief corps had an off night in permitting the New York Mets to overcome a late deficit for a 6-5 victory in front of 19,343 — the largest Monday night crowd at Marlins Park since the home opener in April.
The Mets overcame a 5-3 deficit by scoring three runs in the seventh off relievers Mike Dunn and A.J. Ramos to take the first game of a four-game series between two teams that are trying to avoid the cellar in the National League East.
“These guys are young, and as good as they’ve been, they’re going to have some hiccups,” said manager Mike Redmond.
It was one of the few poor showings of late by the Marlins pen, which has blossomed into one of the team’s top strengths. Since June 1, the Marlins’ bullpen ERA of 3.03 ranks 10th in the majors.
And during a just-completed seven-game road trip, Marlins relievers gave up only three earned runs over 21 innings in two of the most hitter-friendly parks in the majors: Milwaukee’s Miller Park and Colorado’s Coors Field.
But in pitcher-friendly Marlins Park on Monday, the bullpen had a hiccup.
Dunn, summoned with no one on and one out in the seventh promptly gave up a double to Eric Young and RBI single to Daniel Murphy. Dunn was replaced by right-hander A.J. Ramos, who retired David Wright on a fly ball before giving up back-to-back RBI hits to Marlon Byrd and Ike Davis.
“It’s frustrating,” Dunn said. “The guys have been solid down there all year, especially as of late. To give it up that way kind of [stinks].”
The Marlins, who overcame an early 3-0 deficit to take a 5-3 lead, couldn’t mount a second comeback charge and saw their five-game winning streak against the Mets come to an end.
If not for a couple of Mets fielding miscues, though, the game might not have even been as close as it was. Shortstop Omar Quintanilla’s flub on a routine ground ball in the fourth allowed two runs to score. And Young’s mishandle on a base hit in the sixth, though not ruled as an error, enabled Jake Marisnick to move up a base. Marisnick ended up scoring the fifth and final run for the Marlins.
It was hardly a pristine outing for Marlins starter Jacob Turner. Turner threw 94 pitches, only 51 of which were strikes.
Turner, though, managed to hold the Mets to only three runs, all of which came in the third inning. Murphy drove in two of his three runs on a two-out single and Wright followed immediately with a run-scoring double.
“Didn’t feel great out there, but was able to get out of a few situations I put myself in,” Turner said.
The Mets’ Jeremy Hefner got off to a better start, holding the Marlins without a hit until the fourth when Giancarlo Stanton opened the inning with a double off the wall in center. Ed Lucas drove in Stanton with a triple into the cut-out in center before Quintanilla’s error produced two more Marlins runs.
After Jeff Mathis drove in a pair of runs with his one-out single (and advance to second on the throw) off Hefner in the sixth, the Mets turned to their bullpen.
But Redmond elected to have Turner bat for himself even though his pitch count was getting up there and they had a runner in scoring position with only one out. The Marlins didn’t score again.
“I was going back and forth in my mind,” Redmond said. “It didn’t work out.”
Mets reliever David Aardsma retired Turner and Adeiny Hechavarria to put an end to the sixth.
The Marlins, who had won seven of the past eight games between the two teams, came up empty against the Mets bullpen over the final 3 1/3 innings, with Bobby Parnell on in the ninth to record his 21st save, though not without a bit of a scare.
The Marlins had runners at the corners with two outs in the ninth. But Parnell needed only one pitch to take care of Stanton, retiring him on a routine grounder to second.
“We were one big hit away from winning it and one hit away from playing extra innings,” Redmond said.