Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins face reality check after winless road trip ends with sweep

They left town in first place. They return home in last.

The Marlins brought a winless road trip to an end with a 4-3 loss Sunday to the Philadelphia Phillies.

With the game deadlocked in the eighth inning, Chase Utley crushed a solo homer off reliever Mike Dunn, and the Marlins finished the trip by losing six times without a win in Washington and Philadelphia.

“We went into this road trip feeling really good,” manager Mike Redmond said. “We were tested, and we knew it was going to be a test. We realize now how much work we still have to do to get where we want to go. And we know the areas — it’s pretty obvious — where we need to get better and improve.”

In four of the losses, three different Marlins relievers were tagged for homers that dictated the outcomes. Dunn made it a trio Sunday when Utley hit a 1-0 pitch into the bleachers in right.

“He was sitting on a slider, and he wasn’t fooled,” Dunn said of the pitch that the red-hot Utley, who has 20 hits in 40 at-bats this season, hit out.

Carlos Marmol and Dan Jennings also gave up late-inning homers during a week gone bad for the Marlins.

The Marlins’ bullpen had an ERA of 7.36 on the trip.

But Redmond said the bullpen is hardly the only area that needs to improve.

“I think that everyone has to take ownership on this road trip,” Redmond said. “It’s not just one. It’s all of us. We’ve got to get better.”

Nothing seemed to go right for the Marlins all week. They lost starting pitcher Jacob Turner to a shoulder injury at the start of the week, which caused the Marlins to move Brad Hand out of the bullpen and into a starting role. That caused a chain reaction that ended up taxing the bullpen.

Other glaring deficiencies:

• Marlins hitters went just 7 for 47 on the road trip with runners in scoring position.

• As a team, the Marlins hit just .230 overall.

• The entire pitching staff’s ERA was 6.16.

• The Marlins were outscored 37-18.

Since starting the season 5-1, the Marlins have lost their past seven games.

It was a trying afternoon for Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez, who was under constant pressure.

He gave up a career-high 12 hits to go with three walks in only six innings of work.

But Alvarez limited the damage by holding the Phillies to three runs when it could have been much worse for him.

The Phillies scored one of their runs off Alvarez on a Ryan Howard solo home run in the third. The home run by Howard was his 37th all-time against the Marlins, most by any active player. Next on the list is Utley, who has clubbed 28 homers off Marlins pitching over the years.

“He was in a lot of trouble most of the day but was able to pitch out of it,” Redmond said of Alvarez.

Alvarez’s counterpart on the Phillies, Kyle Kendrick, fared only slightly better.

Garrett Jones tagged his first home run of the season off Kendrick in the fifth to give the Marlins a 3-1 lead. But the Phillies answered with two runs to tie it in their half of the inning.

In the sixth, Tony Gwynn Jr. — trying to score from first on Utley’s double — was thrown out at the plate on a close play that was challenged by Phils manager Ryne Sandberg. But the call was confirmed after being reviewed.