The Miami Marlins were clinging onto a one-run lead when starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara turned the game over to the bullpen after six strong innings of work. Alcantara had just posted his third quality start in his last four appearances, and the Marlins had rallied from an early two-run deficit to give their starter some run support.
That lead quickly vanished in the seventh and the offense could not rally again in a 5-4 loss to the Pirates on Sunday to close out a nine-game homestand. The Marlins (25-44) dropped all three series at Marlins Park and went a combined 2-7 over the nine games, picking up one win each against the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pirates after being swept by the Atlanta Braves.
Nick Anderson, who threw a scoreless eighth inning in Saturday’s win, gave up the tying and go-ahead run early in the seventh. Bryan Reynolds led off the inning with a single and came home one batter later on a Melky Cabrera triple to right field. Josh Bell then brought Cabrera home on an RBI double to left field.
Three batters. Three hits. Two runs.
And, ultimately, the ball game.
“Today wasn’t as sharp,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Anderson. “It’s a quick turnaround, but he was a guy coming off of three days rest and that inning [Saturday] night was fairly easy. He was our guy for that [seventh] inning.”
It spoiled a strong start from Alcantara, who scattered eight hits and two walks (one intentional) while giving up just three earned runs over six innings on Sunday. He struck out six batters he faced while throwing 85 pitches. The 6-5 righty worked his way out of jams in the first, third and fifth innings, stranding a runner at third in all three of those frames. Alcantara gave up two runs in the fourth on a two-out Jung Ho Kim double to left field and gave up his third run of the game in the sixth on a Corey Dickerson pinch-hit double that scored Gregory Polanco, who also doubled.
“I thought Sandy was good today,” Mattingly said. “Obviously, not totally clean. Felt like he had battles every inning. Had traffic, got out of a couple and then they get the two [in the fourth] but I thought he hung in there.”
Alcantara added: “I was competing to stay in the game ... Last time I didn’t throw my best. It wasn’t a bad game today.”
In between, the Marlins rallied to take their short-lived lead with a four-run fourth inning that brought 10 batters to the plate. Harold Ramirez did most of the damage with a three-run home run to left field after Garrett Cooper led off the inning with a double and Brian Anderson followed with a walk.
“I really just look for the right pitch because they throw me a lot inside,” said Ramirez, who is hitting a team-best .325 with eight doubles, two home run and 16 RBI and had a pair of three-hit games during the homestand. “Today, I got it.”
Alcantara helped his own cause with a two-out RBI single that scored JT Riddle, who singled after Ramirez’s home run.
Cooper missed a two-out grand slam to right field by a few feet in his second at-bat of the fourth.
“You look at that at-bat,” Mattingly said, “and it has a chance to totally change that game. ... But [the Pirates] were able to keep it right there.”
The Marlins recorded just two hits in the final three innings after the Pirates (32-39) retook the lead.
The Marlins will now play seven games on the road, starting with a four-game series at St. Louis on Monday. They finish the road trip with three games in Philadelphia against the Phillies from Friday to Sunday.