The Marlins were looking like streak-busters Monday.
They had the Brewers and pitcher Zack Greinke backed against the ropes. But the Brewers rallied for their ninth consecutive win over the sloppy Marlins and, in the process, kept Greinke from suffering his first loss at Miller Park after 15 winning decisions in a row.
Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano likened it to a big fish that gets away.
“I almost had him,’’ Zambrano said of Greinke. “But he ran away from me. It’s like when you’re fishing and you’ve got the fish, and you bring it in. And then when you almost have it to the boat, it escapes.’’
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Errors and head-shaking mistakes spelled disaster for the Marlins, whose 6-5 defeat to the Brewers ended their own four-game winning streak. Hanley Ramirez was charged with two errors, Greg Dobbs was guilty of another, Omar Infante mishandled a ground ball and Zambrano watched a bunt roll right past him — all in the fifth and sixth innings — as the Marlins opened a week-long road trip to the Midwest with a dull thud.
“Pretty ugly one,’’ manager Ozzie Guillen said. “A lot of bad things happened to not win the game.’’
The Brewers, who trailed 5-2 entering the fifth and 5-3 going into the sixth, ended up taking the lead for good on Norichika Aoki’s safety squeeze in the eighth off reliever Ryan Webb.
So much for the Marlins taking care of two streaks in one swoop.
Teams sent scouts to watch Greinke, who is a potential target with the July 31 trade deadline on the horizon. But Greinke wasn’t sharp. He gave up a pair of runs in the first on a two-run single by Justin Ruggiano and three more in the third as Ruggiano clubbed a two-run homer.
Meanwhile, Greinke’s counterpart — Zambrano — was once again erratic.
After retiring the first two batters he faced, Zambrano plunked Ryan Braun with a pitch before walking the next three batters to force in a run. When Zambrano stepped to the plate the next inning, Greinke brushed him back with an inside pitch, prompting home plate umpire Derryl Cousins to issue warnings to both benches.
After Zambrano completed the at-bat by grounding out, he said some words to Greinke as he jogged past the pitcher on the way back to the dugout.
“I didn’t say nothing bad to him,’’ Zambrano said. “I didn’t curse. I didn’t say any bad words. I just passed by him, had a few words. It’s between him and me.’’
Zambrano said he was not trying to hit Braun.
“I’ve got nothing against Braun,’’ Zambrano said. “He’s a great player, and I respect him.’’
Still, Zambrano managed to maintain his composure and appeared to be in good shape when he took a 5-2 led into the fifth. But after he gave up a one-out home run to Carlos Gomez, matters started to turn sloppy for the Marlins.
Ramirez made the first of his two errors, Braun beat out an infield hit in which Infante also could have been charged with an error, and a pickoff throw by Zambrano got past Dobbs for another error.
It turned even uglier defensively for the Marlins in the sixth.
Corey Hart opened the inning by reaching on a two-base throwing error by Ramirez. After Rickie Weeks walked, Zambrano allowed Martin Maldonado’s bunt to roll past him for a bases-loading single.
Zambrano nearly got out of the jam unscathed. Cesar Izturis bounced back to the mound for a 1-2-3 double play. But pinch-hitter Travis Ishikawa’s single drove in two runs to tie the score and take Greinke off the hook. Greinke is one of only four pitchers since 1900 to win each of his first 15 home decisions with a team.
Marlins fielders weren’t the only ones who had a frustrating night. John Buck was ejected in the sixth after striking out and arguing with Cousins. Buck’s replacement, Brett Hayes, had a chance to cause damage in the eighth when he stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded with the score tied.
But he grounded out to end the inning.
The Brewers went ahead in the eighth after Weeks doubled to start the inning, advanced to third on Maldonado’s single to right, and scored on Aoki’s perfectly placed bunt.