Down by a run in the fifth inning of Sunday’s rubber game against the Mets, Giancarlo Stanton stepped up to the plate with two outs.
With Martin Prado on third base and Christian Yelich at first, Stanton’s at-bat served as a chance for the Marlins to shift the tide of the game.
Instead, Stanton chopped a ground ball to Mets shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and was narrowly thrown out at first base for the inning-ending out.
It was a day of wasted opportunities for the Marlins, who fell 3-0 to the Mets to drop the first series of their 10-game homestand. With the loss, the Marlins (53-45) saw their lead over the Mets (52-45) drop to a half-game in the race for the second wild-card spot in the National League.
“The homestand, you’d really like to play well at home, but we’ve been a good club,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “You just really want to stay focused on keeping it simple.”
The Marlins mustered just five hits on the day, stranded eight runners and went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position. Prado was their lone highlight on offense, going 3 for 3 and reaching base a fourth time on a walk.
Starter Jose Urena (1-2, 5.34 ERA) took the loss despite showing improvement in his second start since being called up last week. The 6-0 righty gave up just four hits and one run in six innings of work despite dealing with minor cramps late in his start. He struck out four batters and did not allow a walk. His fastball touched 97 mph.
“I just refocused and try to control the things that I can control,” said Urena, who has given up just two runs in 11 2/3 innings (1.54 ERA) since being recalled. “When I go out into a game, I try to make quality pitches, and if something happens I’ll be ready for it.”
Urena’s lone blemish came in the third inning. After retiring the first six batters he faced, Urena gave up a single to Mets center fielder Michael Conforto to start the frame. Groundouts by Rene Rivera and Steven Matz moved Conforto to third before former Marlin Jose Reyes ripped a 2-1 offering to the wall in left-center field for an RBI triple. In the three-game series, Reyes went 5 for 15 (.333) with two RBI, a pair of runs scored and four strikeouts.
The Mets added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth on back-to-back singles by Yoenis Cespedes and James Loney. Cespedes’ hit plated pinch-hitter Alejandro De Aza, who led off the inning by reaching after striking out on a wild pitch.
“Probably for us, the two [runs in the eighth] hurt us,” Mattingly said, “because if you can keep that at a one-run game, you give yourself a shot to be able to bunt or put a little more pressure on them. That’s the inning that kind of gets us.”
Matz (8-6, 3.36 ERA) earned the victory — his first in his past 10 starts — for the Mets after pitching six scoreless innings. He was 0-2 against the Marlins this season going into Sunday.
Jeurys Familia converted his 51st consecutive save — which ties Jose Valverde for third on the all-time list — and major-league leading 35th save of the season after retiring the Marlins in the ninth.
“You want to win the series,” Mattingly said. “When you lose two out of three, you don’t like it, [but] nothing changes what we’re going to do.”
Ichiro Suzuki struck out swinging in a pinch-hitting appearance in the seventh, keeping him four hits shy of the 3,000-hit milestone.