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Lopez's quality start spoiled by late homers

MLB.com

MIAMI -- Through 6 1/3 innings on Tuesday night, Pablo Lopez kept the Cardinals off the board. But two late home runs, including one off the Marlins' rookie starter, wiped it all away, as the Cardinals handed Miami a 3-2 loss at Marlins Park.

Lopez surrendered a game-tying, two-run homer to Paul DeJong in the seventh, and Matt Carpenter delivered the go-ahead blast in the eighth off reliever Elieser Hernandez.

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MIAMI -- Through 6 1/3 innings on Tuesday night, Pablo Lopez kept the Cardinals off the board. But two late home runs, including one off the Marlins' rookie starter, wiped it all away, as the Cardinals handed Miami a 3-2 loss at Marlins Park.

Lopez surrendered a game-tying, two-run homer to Paul DeJong in the seventh, and Matt Carpenter delivered the go-ahead blast in the eighth off reliever Elieser Hernandez.

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It marked Lopez's first time pitching in the seventh inning -- uncharted territory that may not have gone according to plan but will certainly help the right-hander in the long run as he continues to develop at an accelerated pace.

"I think I let the game speed up on me a little bit," said Lopez, who began the season at Double-A Jacksonville. "It was late in the game and my pitch count was high, so I didn't have my best execution. … I was trying to make the perfect pitch instead of just taking a deep breath and executing a pitch, slowing the game down."

DeJong's home run came on Lopez's 100th pitch -- a hanging curveball.

Video: STL@MIA: DeJong knots the game at 2 with 2-run dinger

Don't let Lopez's seventh inning distract you, however, from how good the 22-year-old was. The Marlins' No. 18 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, continues to impress and show that he belongs.

"Pablo is obviously showing us that he's capable here," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "One of the things we've talked about with him is his continued work. Everything that happens to him out there is probably a lesson that he will learn and he's going to grow from. No matter what happens to him out there, you know he's going to get better from it."

Lopez scattered three base hits through the first six frames. He tallied five strikeouts and showed improvements in his stamina, posting career highs with seven innings and 108 pitches in his seventh big league start.

Video: STL@MIA: Marlins on difficult 3-2 loss to St. Louis

Despite the strong performance, the right-hander did not factor into Tuesday's decision.

No matter the result, Lopez sees each start as an opportunity to learn. So as the rookie continues to pitch at the big league level and experience everything that comes along with it, Lopez assured that he will continue to grow.

"We can always learn a lot from each start and work on that in the bullpens between starts," Lopez said. "Try to build that muscle memory and then try to bring that into the game."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
As Lopez's night came to an end, Mattingly opted to go with Hernandez to pitch the eighth over lefty Adam Conley.

Mattingly explained that the decision to go with Hernandez over Conley was made when St. Louis turned to right-handed-hitting pinch-hitter Yairo Munoz, who struck out to lead off the inning. Carpenter followed, with all righty batters behind him.

"If they go left-handed there, we go with Conley," Mattingly said. "If they go right, we go with Elieser. You've got to go through Carpenter, we know that. But really, it's a right-handed situation."

Hernandez worked the count to 3-2, but Carpenter delivered, depositing a 91.5-mph fastball over the right-field wall.

Carpenter's drive to right was his National League-leading 30th of the season and the decisive blow to clinch the Cardinals' comeback victory.

"Obviously, he's a tough guy because he kind of crowds you up on the plate, and he's not really a chaser," Mattingly said. "There's places to get him, but you've got to make pitches. ... He's a guy who knows the strike zone. He knows what type of hitter he is, and what he's trying to do. You've got to make pitches."

Video: STL@MIA: Carpenter's 30th HR gives Cards lead in 8th

SOUND SMART
According to Elias Sports Bureau, DeJong's homer off Lopez in the seventh inning snapped a club record scoreless-innings streak (26 1/3) at home by Marlins starting pitchers.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the seventh inning, Derek Dietrich flashed the leather not once, but twice.

Leading off the frame, former Marlins left fielder Marcell Ozuna crushed a towering fly ball to left that Dietrich tracked down before crashing his back into the wall.

Video: STL@MIA: Dietrich robs Ozuna with a leaping grab

Later in the inning, Harrison Bader roped a line drive to shallow left. Dietrich got there just in time, laying out to his right and snagging the ball before it hit the grass for the third out of the inning.

Both catches were made on batted balls that registered over 90 mph exit velocity, according to Statcast™.

"He's been working very hard. I think that is one of the things when we talk about Derek," Mattingly said on his veteran's defense of late. "He's doing the best he can and he's working extremely hard. I think that's one of the things about him. He made that play against the wall, and then the diving catch. He continues to work, and you never can really fault somebody for that."

Video: STL@MIA: Dietrich lays out for a diving grab in left

HE SAID IT
"I think we're OK. Our guys are fighting. [Miles Mikolas] is tough. Obviously, he's an All-Star this year. This guy's got good stuff. He's got a good breaking ball. It's tough to figure out, and he runs the fastball up on you. He's got good stuff. He's a lot to deal with out there. Our guys are fighting. Obviously, it's tough scoring runs, but I don't worry about our guys. I think we have the right approach. Guys are battling. We're just not having as much success as we'd like right now." -- Mattingly, on his club's offensive performance of late

UP NEXT
The Marlins send rookie Trevor Richards to the mound to close out their three-game series with the Cardinals at 7:10 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The right-hander has been dealing of late, posting an 0.76 ERA over his last four starts. John Gant gets the nod for the Cardinals.

Max Goodman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami. Follow him on Twitter @Max_Goodman97.

Miami Marlins, Pablo Lopez