Ninth-inning homer, failed bunt sink Marlins

SportsMiami MarlinsKevin SloweyBaseballJuan PierrePlacido PolancoGiancarlo Stanton

MIAMI — Put this Marlins loss on Juan Pierre, he's willing to take it.

The Marlins had embattled Cubs closer Carlos Marmol on the ropes Thursday, working men onto first and second with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth.

Down 4-3, thanks to Luis Valbuena’s ninth-inning, line-drive home run off Steve Cishek, Juan Pierre came to the plate asked to perform a task he has mastered during his 14-year major league career — bunt.

The goal was to move the runners over for the Marlins' best hitters to bring them home. Instead, Pierre had Donovan Solano thrown out at third.

The botched bunt had broken one of baseball's cardinal rules — never make the first out of an inning at third base — and with a Placido Polanco flyout and a Giancarlo Stanton strikeout, the Marlins had been handed their 17th loss of the season.

In a game where the Marlins (5-17) held an early 3-1 lead, the loss was especially tough to swallow.
     
"It's unacceptable," Pierre said after the game. "Bottom line, ninth inning, I didn't get the bunt down. Pitching did well, defense, everything went well except me getting the bunt down and giving us an opportunity to win that game...Put this one on me."

Stanton was rattled in the immediate aftermath of the loss, as it exacerbated an already trying situation — the prolific power hitter is yet to hit a longball this season.

Stanton said that he was sitting slider when he came to the plate — Marmol has left them over the middle of the plate frequently this season. He saw two sliders in the at-bat — he swung and missed on both of them.

"You're always looking for a strike," a barely audible Stanton said. "That's the ideal thing you're supposed to do."

The Marlins had jumped out to a 3-1 lead thanks to Stanton, but it was the Cubs who scored first Thursday.

The Cubs (7-14) went up 1-0 after four pitches from Marlins starter Kevin Slowey,as a leadoff double for David Dejesus on the second pitch of the game became the first run of the contest when Starlin Castro drive him home with a base hit up the middle two pitches later.

The Marlins were able to get the run back in the bottom of the frame after Cubs starter Edwin Jackson loaded the bases and then issued a two-out, four-pitch walk to Marlins catcher Rob Brantley, scoring Polanco (who would add a spectacular catch in foul territory the eighth, going full extension over the wall in shallow left.)

But the Marlins couldn’t do anything more with the jam-packed bags, as Chris Valaika struck out swinging.

Jackson threw 35 pitches in the opening inning against the Major League’s worst offense.

It wouldn’t take as many pitches for the Marlins to take a 2-1 lead. After Donovan Solano led off the second with a single and moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt by Slowey, Pierre drove him home with a single up the middle.

The RBI was only Pierre’s second of the season.

No, Pierre much prefers stealing bases to driving in runs, and lest the announced crowd of 15,394 in Marlins ballpark ballpark think he had changed his priorities, Pierre promptly stole second and third base upon reaching first.

Stanton’s second screamer to shortstop — it was only a fielder’s choice this time — brought home Pierre from third, giving the Marlins a 3-1 lead.

The Cubs notched a run in the top of the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Schierholtz and Welington Castillo. Schierholtz then hit a home run in the top of the sixth to bring it to 3-2.

Slowey was able to work his way out of the inning, exiting after six innings of work. He threw 112 pitches, the most he’s thrown since 2010.

The 112-pitch outing was the most Slowey has thrown this year by 19 pitches.

Cishek picked up the loss, his third of the season. Shawn Camp won his first game of the season, working just the eighth inning and not allowing a baserunner.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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