Although ace Jose Fernandez wasn’t his typical dominant self and A.J. Ramos blew a save opportunity, this was a game about second chances.
Jeff Baker, who couldn’t drive in an insurance run as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, got the walk-off RBI double against Jamey Wright in a 5-4 victory over the Dodgers in front of 30,145.
Adeiny Hechavarria singled to lead off the bottom of the ninth, moved to second on Donovan Solano’s sacrifice bunt and advanced to third on Christian Yelich’s groundout to short.
Luck hadn’t been on Baker’s side for most of this season, entering the game with a .130 average and going hitless over 25 straight at-bats. He grounded into a fielder’s choice with a pair of runners in scoring position with one out. The veteran dealt with flu-like symptoms all week.
Baker sent a 1-0 pitch to the right-field wall that Yasiel Puig leaped for on a possible highlight-reel playing. Instead, the ball dropped and Hechavarria scored to end the game.
”I thought for sure he as going to catch it when I hit it,” Baker said. ”Cutter away and trying to stay on it.”
On paper, it seemed like a sure win for Miami on Sunday: Fernandez entered 12-0 with a 1.00 ERA in 19 career starts at home. Los Angeles sent out righty Stephen Fife for his 2014 debut, having posted a 7.08 ERA with Triple-A Albuquerque.
Fernandez tossed a career-high 114 pitches over seven innings, allowing three runs (two earned) with 10 strikeouts and four walks.
Giancarlo Stanton, who couldn’t drive in the winning run with the bases loaded and two outs Saturday night, blasted his ninth homer of the season — a two-run shot off Fife in the first — to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead.
The way Fernandez has pitched in his career at home — no more than two earned runs allowed — one would think it would be enough.
But like Saturday, Los Angeles put together a two-out rally in the third to tie the game. The Dodgers forced Fernandez to throw 24 pitches in the inning and 53 through three frames. It snapped Fernandez’s scoreless streak at 25 2/3 innings dating back to April 16. Fernandez bounced back, needing just 19 pitches over the next two frames.
Christian Yelich gave the Marlins the lead back with a two-out solo shot to the right-field upper deck in the fifth.
For the second time in the game, a two-out walk cost Fernandez — this time in the sixth. His four walks matched his season high, which came during his career worst start April 11 in Philadelphia. He had issued just two walks over his past three starts since then.
Stanton recorded his 11th multi-dinger game with a solo dinger in the sixth for the go-ahead run that held until the ninth.
With closer Steve Cishek unavailable, A.J. Ramos surrendered a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Chone Figgins, who would come around to score on an RBI double by Andre Ethier. Hechavarria stopped the go-ahead run from scoring three batters later by making a diving stop for the force out. It was originally called safe until review.
Fernandez consoled Ramos in the dugout afterwards, telling him the club would get the win.
”We’re playing incredible baseball and even yesterday,” Fernandez said. ”The fans are enjoying it, we’re having a lot of fun. That’s what matters.”
After opening the homestand with a sweep of the National League East-leading Braves, the Marlins took the first game against Los Angeles.
On Saturday, though, they erased a five-run deficit and came within a ball of winning — only to lose in 13 innings. They stranded 13 runners.
It looked like the same might happen on Sunday when they left another 10 on base. Instead, Miami improved to 14-5 at home this season and is again one game over .500.
”In all honesty I came out of the dugout today and throughout the day, and it was a great atmosphere,” manager Mike Redmond said. ”Guys were excited. There was no tension, guys were relaxed. They were having fun.
”(Kevin) Slowey’s birthday today. We had music pumped up this morning. I got here early. When you hit the field you could just feel it. It feels electric. I just felt like this was going to be a great day and yesterday was over, and sure enough it was.”