If there was a feel-good aura lingering from their goose-bump victory the night before, it didn’t last long for the Marlins on Wednesday at Miller Park.
They were de-energized by Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta, who pulled the plug on any thoughts the Marlins had of getting back to .500 and continuing their slow crawl up the wild-card standings.
With the Marlins approaching every game now as “must-win,” Wednesday’s 4-1 loss merely crossed another date off a diminishing calendar, another chance to keep their faint playoff hopes alive fall by the wayside.
"We were quiet," said manager Mike Redmond. "You're one (good) pitching performance away from getting beat this time of year."
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The loss dropped the Marlins to 4 1/2 games behind in the wild card race with only 18 games remaining, and the Brewers are one of the teams standing in their way.
Milwaukee was going in the wrong direction, having lost 13 of his previous 14 games, while the Marlins entered on a three-game winning roll. But Milwaukee stopped the momentum, at least on Wednesday.
And the Marlins were guilty of all sorts of mistakes and mental lapses. The Brewers somehow managed to steal three bases on a pitchout, a pickoff throw and an appeal throw to first.
"We were sloppy," Redmond said. "It wasn't our best defensive showing. This time of year, every mistake costs you, and it did tonight."
And there wasn’t a lot Jarred Cosart, the Marlins’ best starter of late, could do to change that. Not with the way Peralta was shutting down the Marlins’ lineup for a great chunk of his outing.
Cosart was seeking his fifth straight winning decision for the Marlins and turned in another strong start.
But defensive lapses -- including his own -- ended up costing him.
The trouble all started in the third on shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria’s two-base throwing error on Jean Segura’s routine grounder. It was compounded when the Marlins, thinking Segura missed first, had Cosart throw to the bag on appeal.
As Cosart was going through the process, Segura -- seeing that no one was paying him any attention -- took off for third. The appeal failed, and Segura ended with a stolen base. The next batter, Peralta, drove him in with a sacrifice fly.
Unbeknownst to the Marlins, the first base umpire had called obstruction on Garrett Jones, thereby awarding second base to Segura even though he failed to touch the bag.
"That was a crazy play, no doubt," Redmond said. "I'm still confused by that one."
Cosart blamed himself for allowing Segura to steal third on the appeal throw.
"That was on my shoulders for kind of lobbing the ball over there and giving Segura a chance to get to third," Cosart said. "As a starter, errors are going to happen, weird stuff like that is going to happen, but it was my mistake by lobbing the ball over there."
In the fourth, Cosart sandwiched a pair of walks around a Gerardo Parra single, and it cost him when Matt Clark made it 2-0 with another sacrifice fly.
"I was more upset about the next inning," Cosart said of the fourth. "You can't walk two guys in a major league baseball game and expect for the other team not to score and to have a chance to win. So if I could have anything back, it would be those two walks…and maybe the whole dynamic of the game changes."
The Marlins, meanwhile, couldn’t get much of anything going against Peralta.
A pair of singles by Christian Yelich and Jones were all the Marlins had to show through the first six innings. Not until the seventh did they manage to make any noise offensively.
Marcell Ozuna, who has been on a tear, belted an opposite-field home run into the second deck of the bleachers. It was Ozuna’s third home run in as many games in the Milwaukee series.
After Ozuna’s shot, his 22nd home run, the Marlins loaded the bases with two outs, and the Brewers brought in recently acquired reliever Jonathan Broxton to face Donovan Solano, who flied to right to end the threat.
The Brewers broke it open in their half of the seventh on Clark’s first major league home run, a solo shot off Sam Dyson, and another run on a swinging bunt by Carlos Gomez.