Mike Dunn personified the frustration of a Marlins team that had just repeated an all-too-familiar sequence of events.
Dunn worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the eighth inning.
But after three pitches the next inning, Dunn’s seemingly clutch hold unraveled and turned into a 4-3 walk-off loss to the Pirates in front of 27,907 Tuesday night at PNC Park.
Pirates reserve infielder Josh Harrison hit an opposite-field, pinch-hit solo home run to right-center field off a 1-1 fastball. The ball carried a few feet over the fence and dealt the Marlins (43-68) another deflating loss.
“I come in bases loaded and no outs, I was hoping for a punch-out and a double play and it worked out for us,” Dunn said. “I knew I was going out for the ninth unless we scored. I made a mistake pitch, belt-high on outside corner. You hope for those to be foul balls, but it didn’t work out [Tuesday]. It carried, and home run.”
Dunn entered the game in the eighth in relief of Chad Qualls after the Pirates loaded the bases. Qualls walked Starling Marte to start the eighth and then ran into more trouble after Neil Walker executed a perfect bunt up the first-base line. A passed ball by Jeff Mathis allowed the runners to move to second and third, prompting the Marlins to walk Andrew McCutchen intentionally, loading the bases with no outs.
Dunn struck out Pedro Alvarez and then forced catcher Russell Martin to hit into an inning-ending double play. Adeiny Hechavarria made a great play after the ball took a tough hop that forced him back momentarily and could have given time for Martin to beat the throw.
But in the ninth, Harrison fouled off a pitch and then roped the third he got from Dunn to the opposite field.
“I’m just getting so tired of talking about the same stuff all the time,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “We’ve played that game right there I don’t know how many times this season. We’ve been on the other end of a few of them, but not as much as on the losing end.”
The lack of run support continued to hurt the Marlins, who let an early 3-0 lead slip away against the National League’s best team and squandered potential chances to get back in front by leaving 11 runners on base.
“I know we had a lot of baserunners that we left out there,” Ed Lucas said. “It’s just the same old story.’’
The Marlins put up 11 hits, but 10 were singles, and came within a couple of feet on three occasions of getting the timely runs they needed to potentially put the Pirates away.
Logan Morrison drove in the Marlins’ second run on a long single off the right-field wall in the second inning. The ball missed being a three-run homer by a couple of feet.
With the score tied at 3 in the seventh, Hechavarria drove a ball to center field that could have been an extra-base hit with runners on first and second and one out. McCutchen tracked it down and made a spectacular diving catch.
Two batters later, Jeff Mathis nearly dropped a multirun scoring double down the right-field line with the bases loaded. The ball landed a couple of feet foul.
Henderson Alvarez gave up more runs in the third inning than he had his previous three starts combined since the All-Star break.
After cruising through the first two frames, the Pirates tagged Alvarez for three runs on four hits — the two biggest being a two-run double by McCutchen and a score-tying triple by Pedro Alvarez.
Henderson Alvarez entered the game having allowed only two runs in 20 1/3 innings pitched over his previous three outings.
Alvarez earned a no-decision with the Marlins unable to regain the lead before he departed after seven innings. Alvarez struck out six and walked none giving up only two hits in six scoreless innings outside of his struggles in the third.
• Justin Ruggiano set a dubious franchise record for longest hitless streak when he flew out pinch-hitting in the eighth inning. Ruggiano is 0 for his past 34 at-bats, surpassing former Marlins first baseman Mike Jacobs’ 0-for-33 slump in 2007.