A sweep in their most recent series took a little luster off the Florida Marlins’ fast start, but it’s safe to say the ninth inning of their opener against the Philadelphia Phillies ranks as the team’s most disappointing moment thus far.
A seven-run Phillies’ ninth ruined the Marlins’ shutout attempt and cost them the game, and Florida will try to avoid a fifth straight loss Saturday as the teams continue their three-game set at Dolphin Stadium.
The Marlins (11-5) were the talk of baseball after rolling to 11 wins in 12 games - all against the NL East - but stumbled in their first series outside the division, getting swept in Pittsburgh.
Florida appeared to be on its way to getting back on track when the Phillies (7-8) came to town Friday, as it looked like Dan Uggla’s first inning three-run homer would hold up. But seven three-hit innings from Josh Johnson were wasted by closer Matt Lindstrom, who allowed seven runs - including two homers - in the ninth to seal a 7-3 loss.
“It’s a deflating feeling, especially for the guys that worked so hard the whole game, to come in there and blow it,” Lindstrom said. “This is going to be a test for me.”
The Marlins haven’t lost five in a row since dropping eight straight from Aug. 15-22, 2007.
All three of Florida’s starters with a sub-3.00 ERA are scheduled to pitch this weekend, and Saturday Chris Volstad (2-0, 2.76) will try to stop the slide.
Volstad was excellent in his first two starts, giving up two earned runs in 12 innings, but he wasn’t sharp at Washington on Sunday. He allowed three runs and six hits but lasted just 4 1-3 innings largely because of a high pitch count, and left early in a game the Marlins won 7-4.
Volstad started against the Phillies three times as a rookie last season, and went 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA. The loss came in his lone home game, as he surrendered three runs - two earned - over five innings, with the big blow coming on a two-run Chase Utley homer that lifted Philadelphia to a 5-2 win.
An Utley homer accounted for one of the Phillies’ runs Friday, but it was Shane Victorino who made the difference. Victorino, who was just 5-for-23 (.217) since April 18, hit his first regular-season grand slam with two outs to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 lead.
His only previous grand slam came off Milwaukee’s CC Sabathia in Game 2 of the 2008 NL divisional playoffs.
“They’re both big,” said Victorino, who’s 0-for-7 in his career against Volstad. “A home run is a home run for a little guy like me. It’s not like I hit many.”
Philadelphia is off to a subpar start mainly due to some dreadful starting pitching, and Chan Ho Park (0-0, 8.68) has certainly played a role in increasing the rotation’s ERA. The Phillies’ starters have a baseball-worst 6.98 ERA and Park has struggled in both of his starts, though late comebacks kept him from being tagged with two losses.
He gave up four runs in five innings Sunday against San Diego, though Philadelphia rallied for a 5-4 win.
“I felt good,” Park told the team’s official Web site. “I’m happy. I thought I pitched good and kept the game close, so we could come back.”
Park is 0-1 with a 10.66 ERA in his last three starts against Florida dating to June 2005.
The Marlins are hoping to get first baseman Jorge Cantu, who’s 2-for-2 in his career against Park, back Saturday after he missed three games with a sore wrist. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez is 4-for-5 with a homer versus Park.