The Marlins aren’t in the race.
But manager Dan Jennings is likening the team’s ever-evolving pitching situation to one -- a relay event involving a rotation that is now comprised of three rookies.
One day after rookie Justin Nicolino got the job done in the Marlins’ win over the Brewers, Jennings sat in the dugout before Tuesday’s game hoping for a repeat performance by youngster Adam Conley.
“Let’s hope the baton continues to pass,” Jennings said.
It wasn’t exactly a clean handoff, but the Marlins still managed to prevail in a 9-6 victory over the Brewers for their third straight win.
Ichiro Suzuki enjoyed his first 4-hit game in two years, the Marlins scored all nine of their runs with two outs, and it didn’t matter that Conley was unable to stick around long enough to earn the win.
“Four hits is special for me,” Suzuki said. “It doesn’t matter when -- April 1 or October 3. It doesn’t matter. It’s always special.”
Said Jennings: “This guy is a Hall of Famer for a reason, and he shows no sign of slowing down.”
Suzuki also stole a base to move within three of 500.
Handed a 7-0 lead, Conley was lifted in the fourth after giving up four runs.
Instead, it was another rookie -- Kendry Flores -- who was credited with what was his first big-league victory even though he just faced one batter to record the final out int he fourth.
The night belonged to the Marlins’ lineup, which lit into Brewers pitching for 13 hits. Four of those belonged to Suzuki, who is now 81 hits from 3,000. The last time Suzuki had four hits in a game: July 28, 2013.
“He’s so awesome,” said Dee Gordon, who had two hits. “I love watching him.”
But he wasn’t the only Marlin with a big night at the plate.
Cole Gillespie got things going for the Marlins in the first with a bases-loaded triple. Gordon, who is in contention for the batting title, went 2 for 4. Martin Prado had a two-run single during a fifth inning in which Gordon, Suzuki and Prado -- the top third of the order -- each stole a base.
Had the fourth inning not gotten away from Conley (with some assistance from poor outfield play by Derek Dietrich) the margin would have been greater.
After the Marlins scored three runs in the first on Gillespie’s two-out triple and four in the third after Brewers starter Tyler Cravy had retired the first two batters, the Brewers tightened the score in the fourth.
Conley had breezed through the first three innings, striking out six.
But the Brewers got four runs back in the fourth. Dietrich took a poor route on a line drive that sailed over his glove for a double, then allowed a bloop hit fall at his feet and overthrew the cutoff man for an error that allowed a run to score.
It was too much for Conley to handle, and he was lifted with two outs. Flores, another rookie who is expected to join the rotation later this week, got the final out with the tying run at the plate.
The Marlins took a seemingly comfortable 9-4 lead into the ninth.
But matters turned tense. Adeiny Hechavarria and Justin Bour were charged with fielding errors, Jennings had to bring in A.J. Ramos, who promptly hit the first batter he faced and walked the next on four pitches to force in a run.
Ramos finally got the final out for his 20th save.