With another lost lead and a fourth consecutive defeat, the Marlins started the second half of their 162-game slate the same way they ended the first set of 81.
Oakland completed a three-game sweep of Miami on Sunday with a 4-3 win even though the Marlins led at some point in each game.
“You can say you battled with them, but it’s a little late in the season for moral victories,” first baseman Jeff Baker said. “We know we can play with the guys that are the best in the league, but we have just got to figure out a way to get it done. They got big hits, and we didn’t.”
Said manager Mike Redmond: “We just weren’t good enough this weekend.”
The Marlins had not been swept since June 1 and are now four games under .500 (39-43) for the first time since April 16.
Leadoff hitter Christian Yelich scored a run in his first at-bat since coming off the disabled list for Miami, but Athletics first baseman Nate Freiman gave the visitors the lead for good in the sixth inning with a three-run home run.
Rookie Andrew Heaney had held the Athletics scoreless for five innings before giving up three consecutive two-out singles in the sixth. Then Freiman hit his three-run shot into the Clevelander. The first baseman had just been called up Sunday as A’s outfielder Josh Reddick hit the 15-day disabled list.
“We had really been going fastball in a lot to him, and it was effective,” Heaney said. “That one he caught up to it, and if I make a pitch right there he probably doesn’t catch up to it, but I threw it middle-middle, and he hit it really good.”
Heaney was pulled from the game after the inning, ending his third career start. He gave up five runs in five innings in Philadelphia last Tuesday after holding the Mets to one run over six innings in his major-league debut.
“He really just made one bad pitch, and they took advantage of it,” Redmond said. “He looked more comfortable to me [Sunday].”
Yelich opened the bottom of the first inning with a triple to center and came around to score when Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson could not corral the throw.
“He’s a big part of our lineup,” catcher Jeff Mathis said. “For him to come out and put a good at-bat together and push across a run there at the beginning was big.”
After that, though, the Marlins got just five hits off Oakland pitcher Tommy Milone and a pair of Oakland relievers.
Marcell Ozuna provided Miami’s second run on a solo homer during a sixth-inning, pinch-hit appearance. An inning later, Casey McGehee scored on a sacrifice fly after getting on with a walk.
The Marlins got other runners on in the seventh and eighth innings but could not capitalize as the A’s turned double plays and Miami stranded runners in each frame.
McGehee started the ninth with an infield hit, but then Ed Lucas grounded into a fielder’s choice out, Jeff Baker struck out and Donovan Solano ended the game with another strikeout.
“We just needed another base hit, I guess probably the story of our month,” Redmond said.
The game saw two delays — first when a fan was taken out in a wheelchair after being struck by a foul ball and later when several lights around the park went dark over the 21,917 in attendance.
It was as if the stadium was as spent as the Marlins players at the end of a 17-games-in-17-days stretch. When the Marlins started the run on June 13, they were 1 1/2 games back of the NL East lead, but they enter Monday’s day off five games behind division-leading Atlanta.
In between, the Marlins lost four games that went 13 innings or longer to become the first team in major-league history to lose five 13-plus inning games in a calendar month.
“When we sit down and break down this month, we’ve been in so many of these games and we could have gone on the other side of so many of these games,” Redmond said. “We knew going into the stretch we knew that it was going to be a test for us.”