Two swings in the fifth inning erased the Miami Marlins’ deficit against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday.
One final swing from the Brewers’ Mike Moustakas in the ninth inning erased any hope of a comeback.
Milwaukee’s power-hitting third baseman took a two-seam fastball from Jose Urena 418 feet into the right-field seats for a go-ahead home run — his second of the game on his 31st birthday — to seal the Brewers’ 7-5 win at Marlins Park and clinch the four-game series.
“He was pretty good, obviously,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s having a big year.”
The Marlins (51-94) dropped the first two games of the series 8-3 on Monday and 4-3 on Tuesday. They have lost five of six games this homestand, which concludes with Thursday’s 1:10 p.m. finale against the Brewers (77-68). Milwaukee has won six consecutive games and nine of their past eleven.
But the Marlins once again came close to stealing a game from the red-hot Brewers.
Isan Diaz and Garrett Cooper jolted the Marlins offense alive in the fifth with back-to-back home runs to center field against the Brewers bullpen to tie the game 5-5.
Diaz’s home run — his third of the year — came against lefty reliever Alex Claudio and went 425 feet. It was just Diaz’s second hit against a left-handed pitcher at the major-league level. Both have coming in this series against the Brewers. Diaz has three hits in his past two games.
“That’s what happens when you just stick to your plan and put a good swing on the ball,” Diaz said. “Brought some momentum to our side.”
Cooper followed up six pitches later, turning on a 96 mph fastball from Jay Jackson and sending it 422 feet. It was Cooper’s 15th home run of the year and his third of the month.
It marked the seventh time this year the Marlins have hit back-to-back home runs in a game.
The Marlins received solid relief from their bullpen until that final out.
Wei-Yin Chen went 1 1/3 innings, Ryne Stanek threw 1 2/3 innings and Urena recorded two quick outs before walking Yasmani Grandal and giving up the game-winner to Moustakas.
The Marlins are using Urena, their Opening Day starter the past two years, out of the bullpen after he almost three months in the middle of the season with a herniated disc his lower back.
His results have been sporadic in five appearances. Urena has three scoreless outings, a walk-off loss in which he gave up three runs in 13 pitches and Wednesday’s ninth-inning struggles.
“His stuffs good,” Mattingly said. “Obviously he’s not getting the kind of work you get when you’re starting, where you’re getting in multiple pitches and bullpens in between and things like that, but it is accomplishing what we wanted, is to get him back on the mound, showing obviously with velocities that he’s healthy. Maybe a little rusty, but we know he’s healthy, and that’s really what we wanted to accomplish before we went into the winter for him. To know how to prepare for the winter.”
Moustakas’ dominant night at the plate first showed up in the third inning against Pablo Lopez. The Marlins held a 2-1 lead at that point thanks to a first-inning Starlin Castro sacrifice fly and a second-inning Magneuris Sierra RBI single.
But Moustakas wasted quickly helped Milwaukee regain the lead by drilling a change-up on an 0-2 count that was nearly over the heart of the plate 412 feet over the right-field fence for a three-run home run.
“It was super loud,” Lopez said. “The ball left in a hurry. Just one of the consequences of being behind in the count.”
It was the turning point of another rough outing for Lopez since his return from a two-plus month stay on the injured list with a right shoulder strain. The 23-year-old righty gave up five earned runs on five hits and a season-high four walks. He lasted just five innings.
Lopez’s combined stats from his four starts since returning to the Marlins: 17 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings (a 7.91 ERA), 24 hits (including six home runs), five walks and 12 strikeouts.
Lopez has lasted no longer than five innings in each start except for his 6 1/3 inning, two-run performance against the Royals on Friday.
In 14 starts before the injury, Lopez had a 4.23 ERA over 76 2/3 innings. He had six quality starts, defined as giving up no more than three earned runs while pitching at least six innings, in that span.
Martin Prado’s opportunities this year have been limited as the season winds down to its final few weeks.
But the 14-year MLB veteran made the most of his sporadic appearances against the Brewers. Prado reached base in all three of his pinch-hit plate appearances so far in the series.
His fifth-inning single on Wednesday was the most timely, as he score on Diaz’s two-run homer two batters later.
Prado is hitting .241 (52 for 215) this season and .277 (9 for 33) with six walks as a pinch-hitter.
Outfielder Magneuris Sierra showcased his speed on the basepaths Wednesday. Sierra hit two singles, stole two bases and made it from first to third in the sixth on a failed pickoff attempt. However, he got himself caught in a rundown between third and home in the sixth on a failed squeeze bunt attempt with Bryan Holaday at the plate. Holaday then popped out to end the inning.
The Marlins’ Class A affiliate Clinton (Iowa) Lumberkings fell 3-1 to the South Bend Cubs in the first game of the Midwest League championship series on Wednesday.