Marlins pitcher Pablo Lopez talks about his second major league start
Diehard Marlins fans reluctantly remember that dismal Fourth of July in Colorado back in 2008.
A decade and a day later, the Marlins suffered a meltdown that goes right up there in that category.
A chance to add to one of their biggest rivals’ recent misery turned into one of the most forgettable nights in Marlins’ history when Miami blew a nine-run lead in a 14-12 loss to the host Washington Nationals on Thursday night.
The Marlins tied a franchise-record for largest lead surrendered matching that infamous defeat in which they blew the same advantage in an 18-17 defeat to the Rockies. It was also the largest comeback in Nationals' history.
Marlins' pitchers walked eight batters overall.
"We didn't help ourselves," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "We played good defense. We didn't make an error all night, but you can't walk eight guys with that club over there. We let them back in the game and we couldn't stop the momentum."
The Marlins (36-53) built a 9-0 lead going into the bottom of the fourth inning doing all their damage against starter Jeremy Hellickson, one of their longtime obstacles.
Miami appeared ready to hand the slumping Nationals (43-43) what would have been a sixth consecutive defeat and 19th in 25 games.
Instead Washington came roaring back with a run in that inning, four in the fifth and five in the sixth.
Trea Turner, who finished with a career-high eight RBI, started the comeback with a 394-foot solo homer to center in the fourth off Marlins’ rookie Pablo Lopez.
Turner then capped it with a 388-foot grand slam to left center off reliever Adam Conley in the bottom of the fifth to complete the Nationals’ comeback and put them ahead for good.
The Nationals beat the Marlins for the 12th consecutive time extending Miami’s worst losing streak against their division foes. It also matched the Marlins’ worst losing streak against an opponent, which came against the Brewers from April 3, 1998 to May 5, 1999.
Lopez, a 22-year old prospect, made his second career start and was cruising through the first four innings despite the solo homer to Turner. After throwing 47 pitches over those four frames, Lopez threw 36 pitches during a rocky fifth that put the Nationals back in the game after a single by Michael Taylor, a bases loaded walk and a double by Juan Soto.
"I didn't have my best secondary stuff and they just started putting good swings on my fastball," Lopez said. "Hitters make adjustments and I have to make mine trying to spin my breaking ball better and locate my changeup."
Things spiraled quickly for Conley, who had his worst outing since transitioning to a setup role this season.
Conley walked four, allowed five runs on two hits capped by Turner’s slam.
"It was command," said Conley when asked about what he felt caused the poor outing. "I just wasn't able to put the ball where I wanted. I felt good and I felt I was throwing the ball pretty good. Just not able to get the ball down."
The Nationals tacked on four more runs in the seventh off Dillon Peters to extend their lead to 14-9. Peters gave up five hits and walked two.
This proved crucial for Washington after Brian Anderson answered in the eighth with a three-run home run off reliever Kelvin Herrera.
That was all Herrera would yield, however, as J.T. Realmuto grounded out while Justin Bour and Martin Prado struck out in succession.
Nationals closer Sean Doolittle recorded his 22nd save after a scoreless ninth.
The Marlins did most of their damage off Hellickson in the second inning, scoring six runs on five hits highlighted by Prado’s three-run home run.
Prado’s 374-footer off the left field foul pole was his first home run since April 26, 2017. Prado played his first game since May 25 after being out for six weeks due to a left hamstring strain.
Bour smacked a 403-foot two-run homer in the fourth to put the Marlins ahead 9-0. Hellickson had gone 4-3 with a 2.88 ERA in 12 previous starts against the Marlins as a member of the Phillies. Hellickson made his second start since spending four weeks on the disabled list with a right hamstring injury.