The Marlins appeared to resolve their hitting issues on Saturday night.
Then their typically steady bullpen faltered in the eighth inning, resulting in an 8-7 loss to the White Sox — their third in a row.
But by the final out of the game, the loss wasn’t their biggest concern.
After Giancarlo Stanton blooped a single to right field with two outs in the ninth, he raced around first, trying to extend the hit to a double.
Stanton pulled up halfway to second base and was easily tagged out by White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson to end the game.
Stanton was seen wincing as he remained lying on his back for several seconds before getting up and walking slowly back to the Marlins’ dugout.
After the game, Stanton was being evaluated for a potential groin injury.
“It didn’t look real good,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “If you see that replay, you know it didn’t look good. He felt like he pulled something in his groin area. We’ll see what happens with that.”
Stanton helped the Marlins (60-56), who slipped a half-game behind the Cardinals for the second National League wild-card berth, break out of their worst three-game hitting stretch of the season.
The Marlins racked up 14 hits, one more than the combined total they had over their previous three games, and scored seven runs over the game’s first four innings after scoring only four runs during their previous 34 innings.
Stanton and Martin Prado each hit home runs that helped the Marlins overcome a shaky start by Adam Conley, who gave up five runs and lasted only four innings.
As it turns out, Conley has also been dealing with an injury to his throwing hand he sustained over a week ago in a fluky incident in Chicago.
Conley said he hit his hand on the top of the dugout at Wrigley Field while celebrating a home run by Jeff Mathis during a game against the Cubs on Aug. 3.
“I’ve been dealing with some soreness in my hand,” Conley said. “I couldn’t throw the ball as hard. I tried to battle through today and make it as far as I could.”
Conley turned in his second poor start in a row, giving up three of his runs in a rough second inning. He allowed five hits and four walks. In his previous start at Colorado, Conley surrendered six runs on seven hits in five innings.
Mattingly said Conley’s velocity has been down during his recent starts, crediting that as a big reason for his lack of effectiveness.
Conley was solid at the plate, however, hitting a pair of singles that sparked scoring rallies in the third and fourth innings. Conley recorded his first career multi-hit game after entering Saturday’s contest with only three hits in 40 at-bats this season.
But the bats went quiet from the fifth inning on and a 7-5 lead disappeared after the White Sox scored a run against Dustin McGowan in the sixth and took the lead in the eighth with two runs off Kyle Barraclough, the second of which scored on a strikeout that should have ended the inning and kept the game tied at 7.
With runners at first and third and two outs, Barraclough struck out Melky Cabrera with a slider that skipped in front of J.T. Realmuto and rolled far enough to allow Dioner Navarro to score from third. Realmuto tracked the ball down but could not get the throw home to Barraclough before Navarro scored the eventual winning run.
“It was bad luck, and it was just a tough ball,” Barraclough said. “Then again, if I don’t put myself in that situation then we would have had nothing to worry about.”
Before the wild pitch, Navarro was unable to score on two prior at-bats, as Barraclough induced Adam Eaton to line out to right to Stanton and Tyler Saladino to pop out to shallow right field.
Barraclough gave up a single to Jason Coats and walked Navarro to start the inning. The White Sox tied the game on Justin Morneau’s double to right field.
“I almost got out of it, but I still blew the lead, so it wasn’t like I was getting out of anything, I was just preserving the tie,” Barraclough said. “My job isn’t to preserve the tie, it’s to preserve leads. I didn’t do my job tonight and everyone else did.”
Stanton hit his 25th home run of the season in the second inning, joining Dan Uggla as the only Marlins players to ever post five career seasons with 25 or more home runs.
Stanton followed that with a single in the fourth with the bases loaded that broke a 5-5 tie and gave the Marlins the lead until the eighth.
Trailing 4-1 in the third, Martin Prado tied the game with a three-run homer to left field. It was Prado’s seventh home run of the season but his fifth since the All-Star break.
The Marlins tagged White Sox starter James Shields for all seven of their runs on 10 hits in three innings.
Shields had been sharp in five previous outings against the Marlins, going 4-0 with a 0.69 ERA. But it’s been a different story of late for Shields, who has surrendered 21 earned runs over his past 9 1/3 innings.
Derek Dietrich broke the franchise record for most times getting hit by a pitch when he was plunked by reliever Matt Albers in the fifth inning. Dietrich was hit for the 52nd time in his career, surpassing Alex Gonzalez (51), and was hit for the 22nd time this season, which leads the National League.
The pitch hit Dietrich below the right knee. He remained in the game until the seventh, when he was replaced at first base by Miguel Rojas. Mattingly said Dietrich was feeling a bit of soreness as well.