Marlins manager Mike Redmond seemed to be pushing all the right buttons Monday night.
He started Justin Bour in place of the struggling Michael Morse, and Bour homered to give the Marlins a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning.
Then, in the eighth, Redmond sent Jeff Baker up to pinch-hit for Bour with two outs — and Baker gave the Marlins the lead again.
In the end, though, no Marlins lead was safe.
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Washington came from behind three times to tie it before Yunel Escobar stuck the final dagger — a two-out, two-run single in a four-run eighth — as Miami dropped its second game in a row, 6-4, in front of 24,731 fans at Nationals Park.
“I put myself in a bind when I walked the first hitter,” said Bryan Morris, who gave up four hits and all four runs in the eighth. “I made a really bad pitch [to Ian Desmond for the game-tying, two-run home run] and it went over the fence. Then after that, I left other balls up and they found holes as well. That’s usually what happens. I made mistakes, and I paid for it.”
This certainly wasn’t the way the Marlins (12-14) wanted to kickoff their 10-game trip — not after sweeping the Nationals (13-14) last week in Miami and turning their season around with a 7-2 homestand.
Starter David Phelps wasn’t perfect, but he matched Jordan Zimmermann for six-plus innings and had a 2-1 lead when he walked pinch-hitter Clint Robinson with one out in the seventh and was yanked.
Mike Dunn and Sam Dyson couldn’t hold it down.
Dunn gave up a two-out single to Escobar, who finished a career-high 5 for 5. And then Dyson, in the midst of a career-best stretch of 122/3 scoreless innings of relief, gave up a two-out single to center Jayson Werth on an 0-2 pitch that allowed the tying run to score.
The run was charged to Phelps, who in four starts has given up only five earned runs over 24 innings (1.89). Dyson’s streak remains intact, but he has now allowed an MLB-high eight inherited runners to score, according to sportingcharts.com.
“I fault myself if anything,” Phelps said. “They gave me a chance to go out for the seventh, and it’s two starts in a row where I just haven’t gotten it done. Just got to dig a little deeper and make some better pitches in the seventh inning.
“If I don’t walk that guy, we’re not in that situation. Regardless of what the bullpen does, if I do my job and get that guy out, we’ve got two outs with the top of their lineup up. It’s a completely different story.”
The Nationals (13-14) gave the Marlins plenty of chances Monday. Werth committed Washington's major-league leading 25th error of the season and it eventually led to Miami's first run. Then in the eighth, balls squirted free from the Nationals' gloves three times, allowing the Marlins to take a 4-2 lead.
Baker’s pinch-hit single to right scored Dee Gordon from second base, but only after catcher Wilson Ramos couldn’t hold onto the ball and apply a tag. Ichiro Suzuki then made it 4-2 when second baseman Danny Espinosa couldn’t hold onto his chopper up the middle.
But the Nationals, who hit .181 as a team and were outscored 17-4 in three consecutive last week in Miami, enjoyed the last laugh.
▪ Morse, who finished 3 for 28 (.107) during the Marlins’ last homestand, was on the bench for the second time in the last three days.
“Mo’s scuffling,” Redmond said. “All we can do is give him some breaks and try to get him going, get him some time to get with [hitting coach Frank Menechino] until he can get that feeling back.
“So, we’ll just go day-to-day with him, see how he’s doing, how he’s feeling. This guy is a big part of our team, and we need him. Right now, he’s going through a tough patch.”