Marlins' rally falls short after Alvarez's short start
Yelich, Baker lead four-run eighth, but tying run stranded in last frames
SAN DIEGO -- Match one of the best starting rotations against one of the lowest scoring offenses and what do you get? At Petco Park, it was the unexpected and complete frustration for the Marlins.
For the third straight day, the soft-hitting Padres pounded on the Marlins' power arms.
Will Venable delivered a leadoff home run and Chris Denorfia added a two-run single, propelling the Padres to a 5-4 win over the Marlins on Sunday afternoon.
For seven innings, it was a lifeless effort by the Marlins, who finally picked things up with a rally that fell just short.
The Marlins had entered the series on Thursday riding high after an 8-1 homestand. And in the series opener, they pulled out a 3-1 win in 11 innings, boosted by Giancarlo Stanton's two-run homer.
From that point, the Padres responded and the Marlins slumped.
"We were coming off a monster homestand where everybody pitched well and everything was going great," manager Mike Redmond said. "We're being tested on the road. Now we'll find out what we're made of. You've got to pitch through adversity. You've got to play through adversity and keep going. That's where we're at right now. We've got to find a way to win on the road."
The Marlins fell behind by five, but made a game of it with four runs in the eighth inning. Christian Yelich, sporting a pink bat for Mother's Day, belted a home run off Dale Thayer. Jeff Baker delivered a two-run triple off Joaquin Benoit, and Adeiny Hechavarria's RBI groundout pulled Miami to within a run. But with a runner at third, Benoit struck out pinch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
The ninth inning was more of the same off closer Huston Street, who got in a bases-loaded jam. But with two outs, and after Stanton and Casey McGehee walked, Baker bounced to short to end the series.
What should the Marlins take from the four-game set?
"Get better," Stanton said. "Pick it up. It's unacceptable."
The crispness of play was simply off for Miami in all four games, including the win on Thursday.
"It's actually been lifeless for about 25 innings," Stanton said. "That game [Thursday] was still lackadaisical. The whole series has been subpar. So now we can either fall into everyone's concerns [and keep losing on the road], or do something about it."
Street has now converted all 11 of his save chances, and he made the necessary pitch to avoid surrendering the lead.
"Huston has proven over the years how to work his way through innings," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He knows who is on deck and who is in the hole. He already perceives what he has to accomplish. That's a sign of a good closer. Ultimately, he did his job."
For Miami's pitchers, the final three games were disappointing. In the three Padres' wins, they racked up 24 runs, 13 of them off Miami's top three starting pitchers.
On Sunday, it was Henderson Alvarez's turn to get roughed up in a short outing. Alvarez was tagged for five runs on seven hits in four innings.
Jose Fernandez on Friday, Nathan Eovaldi on Saturday and Alvarez combined for an ERA of 7.71 in the series. They allowed 12 earned runs and 20 hits in 14 innings. Miami fell to 3-10 on the road.
Alvarez had issues with his command, and he couldn't get his sinker going.
"It didn't look like he got into a rhythm at all," Redmond said. "We've had three shaky starts. I don't think any of us expected that, especially coming into this ballpark. But you give their hitters some credit. They battled us tough and made us throw a lot of pitches and they won three out of four."
After Thursday's win, the Marlins' starters boasted a 3.08 ERA, which was fifth best in the Majors at the time.
San Diego lefty Robbie Erlin befuddled Miami with a mid-70s-mph breaking ball and a fastball that touched the low 90s. The southpaw matched a career high with seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.
The game slipped away from Miami in the fourth inning, as San Diego sent nine to the plate off Alvarez and scored four times.
Chase Headley's single to lead off the inning got things rolling, and after Yonder Alonso walked, Alexi Amarista lined a one-out RBI single. Alvarez still was in position to minimize the damage when he had two outs and two on and an 0-2 count on Venable. But Venable managed a walk, loading the bases.
Denorfia, with the count full, ripped a two-run single to left, and Seth Smith's RBI single capped the four-run frame, giving the Padres a 5-0 advantage.
It took just two pitches in the first inning for the Padres to claim the lead. Venable blasted Alvarez's 1-0 offering an estimated 400 feet. It was the 10th time Venable has led off with a home run, extending his San Diego franchise mark.
Simply making contact was an issue all series for Miami.
When Erlin fanned Garrett Jones to end the top of the fourth inning, it established a Padres four-game series record for strikeouts. It was their 45th of the series. They finished with 48. Their previous mark for a four-game series was 44, set against the Montreal Expos in August 1998.
"Those guys came out ready to play ball," catcher Jeff Mathis said. "You tip your hat to them and the way they came out and then put it to us the last three days. We've got to come out and be better."