Tom Koehler’s longest and most effective start of the season was not long enough.
Koehler bounced back from a rough outing and held the Phillies to one run over seven innings, but the Marlins bullpen allowed three runs in the top of the eighth as Philadelphia rallied for a 4-3 victory on Saturday night.
“[The Phillies] did a nice job of getting themselves to that point,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Philadelphia’s eighth-inning rally. “You have to give them some credit for continuing to fight. That’s what kind of club they have.”
After Koehler struck out a season-high eight over a season-long seven innings, Mattingly turned a 3-1 lead over to Kyle Barraclough, who had not allowed a run in his first 12 appearances of the season. Barraclough let the first two Phillies reach base before Craig Breslow replaced him and allowed those two Phillies to score.
Bryan Morris relieved Breslow in a tie game with runners on the corners and one out, and pumped his fist after he appeared to induce an inning-ending double play off the bat of Maikel Franco.
“That was a premature celebration from me,” Morris said. “I turned around before the ball got to [first baseman Chris Johnson]. I had to ask the umpire what happened.”
Johnson had dropped the relay throw from second baseman Miguel Rojas, allowing Franco to reach safely and Odubel Herrera to cross the plate with the go-ahead run.
“I just dropped it,” Johnson said. “I don’t need to go look at [a replay]. … I just messed up, lost the game for us.”
Johnson took over at first base for Justin Bour, whose fourth-inning, opposite-field homer to left gave the Marlins a 2-1 lead. Bour dislocated his pinkie in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s game against the Diamondbacks, and Saturday’s game was his first start since May 1.
The eighth-inning bullpen breakdown overshadowed a solid night from Koehler, who failed to get out of the third inning in his last start at Milwaukee.
“That was good to see him bounce back that way,” Mattingly said of Koehler. “He was really aggressive. … It tells you what kind of competitor he is.”
Koehler faced the minimum through three innings before allowing the first two batters in the fourth to reach base. He limited the Phillies to one run in that fourth inning, recorded five consecutive outs via strikeout in the fifth and sixth frames, and stood in line for his third victory of the season when he was lifted for pinch-hitter Ichiro Suzuki in the seventh inning.
“I just tried to forget everything that I’d been doing,” Koehler said. “Just get back to attacking the zone … get in a good rhythm and work the game plan.”
Marcell Ozuna got the Marlins on the board with a solo homer to straightaway center in the second inning. Ozuna, who also drove in the Marlins’ third run with a sixth-inning single, recorded his fourth consecutive multi-hit game.
Miami had a couple of opportunities to score a fourth run. Derek Dietrich doubled to left-center with two outs in the fifth and was sent home on Adeiny Hechavarria’s single to right field. But Philadelphia right fielder Peter Bourjos threw out Dietrich at the plate to end the inning.
After Ozuna’s single gave the Marlins a 3-1 lead in the sixth, Miami still had runners at first and second with only one out, but Johnson lined out to Bourjos in right and Jeff Mathis grounded out to end the inning.
“Stuff like this happens,” Koehler said of the late-game struggles. “We’ve been playing tremendous baseball … we need to come back [Sunday] and continue doing what we’ve been doing.”
The Marlins will play for their fourth consecutive series victory in Sunday’s rubber game. Justin Nicolino is scheduled to start for Miami, and Aaron Nola is slated to pitch for Philadelphia.