MIAMI -- It was a day that came down to defense. In the Marlins' 4-2 victory over the Reds on Saturday at Marlins Park, they made a play that saved the day, while a mistake in the field sent Cincinnati to defeat.The Reds held a 2-1 lead in the bottom
MIAMI -- It was a day that came down to defense. In the Marlins' 4-2 victory over the Reds on Saturday at Marlins Park, they made a play that saved the day, while a mistake in the field sent Cincinnati to defeat.
The Reds held a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when pitcher John Lamb's relatively smooth day hit a snag with two outs. Pitcher Adam Conley beat out an infield hit on a ball that deflected off Lamb, and J.T. Realmuto followed with a lined single. Martin Prado then hit a fly ball toward the right-field wall that should've been caught for the third out. Instead, right fielder Jay Bruce misjudged it, and the ball landed behind him for a two-run double that put Miami ahead by a run.
"You take 'em any way you can get 'em," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Their guy had us baffled there for a few innings, I thought. He was really changing speeds and seemed to have us on the string. Martin's hit obviously is huge. That ball carried better than I thought. When he hit it, I didn't think it was going that far."
Bruce was upset with himself about his miscue.
"I was running and I peeked at the wall like I always do," said Bruce, who was added to the National League All-Star team before the game. "When I looked back up, the ball was over my head. I feel like I should have caught it. Obviously it looked terrible and it was embarrassing, but I did the same thing I do on every single other ball. I wanted to know where the wall was, and I felt like I had plenty of time. I looked back up and it wasn't where I thought it was going to be."
Lamb was lifted before the sixth with only 88 pitches, and he finished with five innings, three runs (two earned), six hits, no walks and a career-high nine strikeouts. The first run he allowed, in the first inning, came on a passed ball by Ramon Cabrera that scored Realmuto.
Conley pitched 5 2/3 innings with two earned runs and four hits, one walk and seven strikeouts. Reliever David Phelps was working in the seventh and escaped unscathed despite allowing three hits. Brandon Phillips tried to go from first to third base on a Cabrera single, but he was nailed by center fielder Marcell Ozuna's perfect throw to Prado as Phillips slid headfirst. Phillips was originally ruled safe, but the call was overturned upon review.
"There was a lot going on by the time Brandon was sliding," Prado said of the play. "I catch it and apply the tag and just hoped we got the out. That was a big out for us."
In Friday's series opener, it was the Marlins who displayed suspect defense while the Reds made several nice plays. But Miami still won that game, giving the home team two wins to already claim the three-game series.
A pair of walks allowed by Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen to begin the bottom of the eighth helped the Marlins add on. Giancarlo Stanton hit a broken-bat RBI single into center field for a two-run lead.
Fernando Rodney worked around a single to pitch a clean eighth, and fellow Marlins All-Star reliever A.J. Ramos was helped by Adeiny Hechavarria's leaping grab in the ninth to finish off the Reds for his 27th save.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Phillips provides lead: In the fourth vs. Conley, Bruce hit a one-out double and scored on a two-out single from Phillips. It was a two-hit day for Phillips, who sustained a fractured left hand in Friday's game after being hit by a pitch.
Missile Ozuna: On the same day he was named a starter for Tuesday's All-Star Game presented by MasterCard, Ozuna might have saved the game. His seventh-inning laser throw from center to nab Phillips for the second out at third preceded a double by pinch-hitter Ivan De Jesus. The assist was Ozuna's fourth of the season, which is second most among Marlins outfielders behind Ichiro Suzuki's five.
"It's just one of those incredible throws," Mattingly said. "Thank god for replay, right? As much as we complain about it, obviously there it ends us helping us."
Unlikely spark: With two outs in the fifth, Conley's infield single that caromed off Lamb's glove ignited a two-run rally. The Marlins mustered just one hit in their previous 15 at-bats off Lamb before the lefty's single. Conley, who went 1-for-2 at the dish, has now recorded a hit in back-to-back starts for the first time in his career. He began the season 0-for-26 with 16 strikeouts.
"I think I've settled down a lot more in the box," Conley said. "I've taken a lot more smaller swings with just a higher priority of making contact and putting the ball in play. If I'm gonna get out, it's gonna be useful. See as many pitches as I can. Make somebody field a ground ball. I'm just trying to help myself out in any way that I can."
Duvallstar: Leading off the second inning, Adam Duvall hit Conley's 1-1 pitch for a game-tying home run to left field, his 23rd of the season. Duvall is the second Reds hitter to produce at least 23 homers, 20 doubles and 60 RBIs before the All-Star break, joining Johnny Bench in 1970.
"Optimistically, I was happy with some of the things I was doing with the ball. Just trying to attack the hitters and throw strikes and mix up speeds. I feel like I was doing a fairly good job with that. Just a little frustrated with the way the results played out. That's just baseball. I can't really look too much into that." -- Lamb
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
When Lorenzen gave up a run in the eighth, it snapped an 11 1/3-inning scoreless streak for the Reds' bullpen. The last run the group allowed was on Monday vs. the Cubs.
Reds: In the final game before dispersing for the All-Star break, the Reds will have Cody Reed face the Marlins on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. ET in Sunday's series finale. The rookie Reed has been hit hard lately and is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in four big league starts.
Marlins: The Marlins give the ball to Tom Koehler to close out the three-game series and the first half of the season Sunday at Marlins Park. Koehler is 0-1 with a 7.07 ERA in his last three starts, but hasn't allowed a run in 10 1/3 career innings against Cincinnati.
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Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.
Patrick Pinak is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami.