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Miami Marlins lose 4th in row as offense struggles again

Putting runners on base hasn’t been too big of a problem for the Marlins the past two nights.

Bringing those guys home, however, has been.

The Marlins once again left a small army on the base paths Friday night, stranding 13 in a 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay in an interleague game at Marlins Park.

The loss was Miami’s fourth in a row as the Marlins have stranded 24 in the past two losses and have gone 1 for 28 with runners in scoring position during their four-game slide.

“We have to do better than that,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “To compete, we have to do better with runners on base. That’s the bottom line. It’s not like we’re not hitting. We’re getting good at-bats. We put ourselves in situations to get something going.

“Then with guys on base, we’re not doing the job we need to. The kid for them couldn’t even finish. He was walking people, loading the bases. He gave us opportunities we didn’t take advantage of.”

Miami is 0-4 on this current homestand, and the Marlins have been outscored 26-4.

The Marlins haven’t won since clinching the three-game series Sunday in Philadelphia and are 2-2 in interleague play this year. Miami won two of three in Cleveland last month.

Last year, the Marlins went 5-23 in June to knock themselves out of the playoff hunt. Miami is 2-5 so far this June.

Ricky Nolasco started Friday’s game and gave Miami a solid performance, pitching six innings before leaving for pinch-hitter Donnie Murphy to lead off the sixth. Miami trailed 3-1 at the time Nolasco left with the Rays opening things up with two runs in the seventh off reliever Ryan Webb.

The Rays didn’t hit Nolasco too hard. With two outs in the third, Matt Joyce dropped a flare into left for a double and then scored on B.J. Upton’s single. Jose Lobaton, who doubled twice off Nolasco, scored Tampa Bay’s second run on Will Rhymes’ two-out infield single after Omar Infante made a nice diving stop, but his throw pulled Greg Dobbs off first in the fourth.

Tampa Bay made it 3-1 in the fifth when Joyce led off the inning by depositing a 2-2 pitch into the visiting bullpen just beyond the right-field fence.

Nolasco has lost four of his past six starts. Nolasco also has lost his past four starts to the Rays and is 2-4 against them in his career. On Friday, he went six innings, giving up three runs and six hits, striking out six and walking four.

“Ricky threw the ball well, had a pretty good game and gave us a chance,” Guillen said.

The Marlins had opportunities themselves and tied it soon after the Rays took the initial lead in the third. Infante led off the bottom of the inning with a double with Hanley Ramirez and Giancarlo Stanton walking to load the bases with no outs against starter Jeremy Hellickson.

Miami made it 1-1 when Infante scored on a sacrifice fly from Dobbs to center but failed to do any more damage as Austin Kearns and Chris Coghlan both grounded out.

The Marlins had runners in scoring position in the first six innings but only got one run. Stanton had bases loaded with two outs in the fourth and flew out to center; with two on and one out in the fifth, catcher John Buck grounded into a double play.

With Jose Reyes at second after doubling with one out in the sixth, Infante grounded out, and Ramirez watched a called strike three against former Marlins reliever Burke Badenhop to end that threat.

Tampa Bay’s Desmond Jennings led off the seventh by doubling off the wall in front of the Clevelander. Webb then walked Joyce before Upton struck out. Ben Zobrist singled in Jennings with Carlos Pena driving in Joyce to make it 5-1.

Sandy Rosario, called up from Triple A New Orleans, made his season debut when he replaced Webb after Pena’s single in the seventh.

Rosario came into the game with a total of four major-league innings pitched over the previous two seasons with the Marlins and got Lobaton to ground into a double play to end things. Rosario also pitched a strong eighth, getting a strikeout and two ground ball outs.

Closer Heath Bell worked the ninth despite it not being a save situation. Bell hadn’t pitched since closing out the Phillies on Sunday.

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