Marlins struggle to score runs, fall to Pirates

BY foxsports • July 20, 2012

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Ozzie Guillen isn't exactly a math whiz. Still, the Miami Marlins manager knows 13 hits turning into just three runs isn't going to cut it most nights.

It certainly didn't on Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Marlins left eight runners stranded in a 4-3 loss to drop their third straight and seventh in their last 10 games. Miami went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and squandered two-on, one-out opportunities twice in the last three innings.

"We had how many hits, 13 hits... and we only got three runs?" Guillen asked. "We don't have any choice. We have to be better with people in scoring position."

Jose Reyes had three hits, including his fifth homer of the season, for Miami, but he struck out against Pittsburgh closer Joel Hanrahan in the ninth.

"A loss is a loss," Reyes said. "We had an opportunity there to at least tie the game but we weren't able to -- me, I wasn't able to put the ball in play in that situation, so I don't feel very happy about it."

Miami's Ricky Nolasco (8-8) gave up four runs and eight hits in six innings, walking one and striking out seven and couldn't protect two early two-run leads.

"It seems like we're rewinding a movie," Guillen said. "We have a few opportunities and we don't get it done early, and then late we have more opportunities and we can't get it done."

Neil Walker broke up a tie with a homer to lead off the fifth and Pittsburgh's bullpen made it stand up. Pedro Alvarez hit his 20th home run of the season for the Pirates while Andrew McCutchen had two hits to boost his batting average to a major-league best .372.

Kevin Correia (7-6) overcame a shaky start to win his fifth consecutive decision and Joel Hanrahan survived a bumpy ninth for his 27th save as the Pirates moved to a season-best 12 games over .500 (52-40) and remained a half-game behind Cincinnati for first place in the NL Central.

"This is a really resilient group," Walker said. "We feel confident no matter who is out on the mound."

The Pirates have 27 comeback wins this year, second-most in baseball behind the New York Yankees.

Correia came in looking to win his fifth straight for the first time in his career but again struggled early. Reyes took the second pitch of the game and drilled it over the fence in right-center field for his 17th career homer leading off a game. Emilio Bonifacio followed with a single, promptly stole two bases and scored on a fielders' choice by Carlos Lee to give the Marlins a 2-0 lead.

Yet just as he did against Milwaukee last Saturday when he spotted the Brewers an early 2-0 lead, Correia settled down and gave Pittsburgh's red-hot bats a chance to catch up.

The Pirates eventually tied it at 3 in the fourth as Alvarez drilled a pitch from Nolasco into the stands in right and Rod Barajas doubled and scored on a single by Clint Barmes.

Alvarez has as many home runs in 83 games this season as he did in the first 164 games of his career combined. Then again, he's just trying to keep pace on an offense that has somehow morphed from the worst in baseball in April and May into the best in the majors since June 1.

And it's not just McCutchen doing damage. Walker's been pretty good in his own right. He hit .485 during a 17-game hitting streak that ended Wednesday, but he bounced back with two hits Friday, including a homer to right leading off the fifth that put Pittsburgh in front.

The Pirates, who hit 107 homers last year, have 103 with 70 games left in the season.

The bullpen and a little defense made the lead stand up. Jared Hughes bailed Chris Resop out of a two-on, one-out situation in the seventh and Walker turned a double play to end the eighth, charging in from second to snag Greg Dobbs' chopper and tag Justin Ruggiano before firing to first to get Dobbs.

Replays showed Walker's glove may not have touched Ruggiano, leading to an animated discussion between Guillen and second base umpire Dan Iassogna.

"From my side, I thought he missed the tag," Guillen said. "But the umpire makes the call and you've got to go with him. You can't do anything about it. It was too late to change the call, but he told me he tagged him."

The Marlins had one last shot in the ninth. Omar Infante led off with a single then moved to third on Austin Kearns' single with one out. Hanrahan regained his command, however, and struck out Reyes and Bonifacio to end it.

NOTES: The series continues Saturday when Pittsburgh's A.J. Burnett (10-3, 3.78 ERA) faces Miami's Carlos Zambrano (5-7, 4.22). ... Marlins 3B Hanley Ramirez entered as a pinch-runner in the ninth. Ramirez was held out of the lineup due to an infection in his right hand. ... The sellout was Pittsburgh's 10th of the season through 44 home dates. The club record for sellouts in a season is 19 set at PNC Park during its debut season in 2001.

share story