For Don Mattingly, the decision was an easy one.
Adam Conley had a chance at one-time glory. The Miami Marlins hope to have Conley around for years of glory. So the Marlins manager pulled his young left-hander in the eighth inning, four outs short of a no-hitter.
The Marlins bullpen couldn’t complete the no-hitter. In fact, it made things too interesting before closing out a 6-3 victory, Miami’s sixth in a row.
Conley’s big performance lifted a team that was jolted 20-some hours earlier by the news of All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon’s 80-game suspension for testing positive for banned substances. Mattingly loved seeing Conley deliver so well, even if it forced him into a decision that earned boos from the Milwaukee crowd.
“No, it was easy right there,” Mattingly said of the decision to pull Conley with the Marlins ahead, 5-0. “I knew he couldn’t finish. We weren’t going to let him finish. That was really easy, actually.
“If he had an easy inning there, an eight- or nine-pitch inning, we probably would think about it. But when he gets to that point, you know he’s not going to be able to finish the game. This kid has a chance to be really special so there’s no way, at this point in the season that we’re going to let him go to 130 [pitches].”
Jose Urena came on and got the Marlins to the ninth with the no-hitter still intact. He also got the first out of the ninth before Jonathan Lucruy spoiled the festivities with a soft blooper that fell just out of the reach of diving second baseman Derek Dietrich.
Conley understood Mattingly’s decision just fine, although he did offer some expected resistance.
“There’s a big part of me that did [have a problem with the decision],” said Conley, who improved to 1-1 and lowered his ERA to 3.67. “I don’t ever like coming out of a game, no matter what the circumstances are. But considering where I was at in the game, I knew what was going on. I knew coming into the eighth I was at about 100, so I was really, really happy he let me go out for the eighth.”
After Lucroy’s single, things got much more interesting than necessary. Urena allowed run-scoring hits to Alex Presley, Ramon Flores and Colin Walsh before Mattingly brought in closer A.J. Ramos.
Ramos made it really interesting by walking the first two batters he faced before getting Jonathan Villar on a 3-2 slider for his seventh save.
First baseman Justin Bour handled the offensive side for the Marlins, who improved to 12-12. Bour drove in the first five of Miami’s runs with two homers and a double.
He bombed a 78-mph change-up off the back wall behind the Marlins’ bullpen to give Miami a 3-0 lead in the first.
Bour pushed it to 4-0 in the third with a double to the gap in left-center. Prado led off the inning with a double down the right-field line, and Ozuna drew a one-out walk. Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, the former Miami Hurricane, got to Bour’s double quickly, forcing third-base coach Lenny Harris to hold Ozuna at third. Ozuna couldn’t get the brakes on in time and was nailed by the relay throw before he could get back.
Bour continued his big night in the sixth, leading off with a drive over the wall in right off reliever Blaine Boyer. The blast gave him his second career multi-homer game.
While Bour was thriving in the fifth spot, Ozuna had an interesting night in the clean-up spot. He walked his first two times up, but had the misfortune of a perfectly placed grounder to third in the fifth inning. Prado had singled to lead off, and Christian Yelich followed with a walk. Ozuna’s grounder to third led Milwaukee’s Aaron Hill right to the base, where he started a 5-4-3 triple play. That marked the fifth time the Marlins had a triple play turned on them, the last time being Aug. 1, 2002, against St. Louis.