The Marlins got four early runs and a solid start from Adam Conley yet failed to properly put the host Minnesota Twins away Tuesday night and it cost them.
Miami’s two-run lead didn’t hold up as Robbie Grossman tied it with a solo shot in the eighth and Brian Dozier ended it with a two-run pop in the 11th as the Twins won 6-4 at Target Field.
The Marlins led 4-2 in the top of the fifth before Eduardo Nunez hit his second solo homer of the night in the bottom of the inning. Conley went 6 2/3 innings, with Grossman tying the score with one out in the eighth off reliever David Phelps.
Although Miami had plenty of baserunners in the first five innings, the Marlins only had two in scoring position in the final six.
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“Anytime you have the lead, you want to close the door at the end of the game,” manager Don Mattingly said afterward. “They sting a little bit. We just weren’t able to add on and those are the kind of games we’ve been playing. We’re in one-run games and we haven’t left ourselves a lot of room for error.
“We’ve put a lot of pressure on our bullpen to absolutely hold teams where they’re at.”
Miami looked sharp early despite giving up two runs in the bottom of the first to trail 2-1.
After Minnesota’s big first inning, Conley settled in and gave up one hit before Nunez tagged him for a second time in the fifth.
Conley then sat down the next four batters faced until walking Byung Ho Park to open the seventh.
“I made a few mistakes — two to Nunez, obviously,” said Conley, who has pitched into the sixth in four of his past six starts.
“The biggest thing I learned was I didn’t think the difference between an AL and NL lineup would be so drastic. I learned that I underestimated that.”
Minnesota, sporting the worst record in the American League, tied things up when Grossman put a 2-0 Phelps offering into the seats.
Miami challenged a bit in the 10th when Ichiro Suzuki — who had a pair of seeing-eye singles to put him 32 hits back of 3,000 — stole second with two outs.
Ichiro was stranded there after Giancarlo Stanton struck out for the second consecutive plate appearance.
“We just weren’t able to get the right hit,” Mattingly said.
Stanton’s recent struggles continued in Minnesota as the Miami slugger went 0-for-5 with strikeouts in his final trips up.
Stanton, who was back in the cleanup slot in the lineup, drove in Ichiro in the first on a fielder’s choice for Miami’s opening run.
In the 10th, however, Ichiro was stranded after stealing second as Stanton struck out and watched his batting average dip below the .200 mark.
This month, Stanton has just one hit in 19 at-bats with nine strikeouts and is hitting .149 since May 1 with 14 hits in 94 at-bats.
“I thought he hit the ball hard early,” Mattingly said.
Miami got a strong outing from reliever Kyle Barraclough who sat down all six batters faced in the ninth and 10th, striking out two.
In the 11th, Dustin McGowan came in and walked the first two batters he faced (Grossman was thrown out trying to steal second before Joe Mauer took his base).
After a ground out, Dozier came up and homered on a 3-2 pitch to end it.
Miami is now 1-6 in games against the Braves and Twins — the teams with the worst records in their respective leagues.
“You can say a lot of things, but you hear the hardest games to win are the ones you should win,” Conley said.
“Part of the reason why I like the game of baseball is anyone can beat anyone on any given day.”