Marlins fall in 11th inning, 6-4 to Twins on Dozier's homer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) After losing 90 or more games in four of the last five years, the young Miami Marlins have had some flashes of success in the early stages of this season.
They're still missing some punch.
Brian Dozier's two-out, two-run home run in the 11th inning gave Minnesota a 6-4 victory Tuesday night over the Marlins, the third game-ending homer in Dozier's career and just the second win for the Twins in their last eight games.
Dustin McGowan (0-2) walked Joe Mauer and gave up the drive to Dozier to take the loss for the Marlins, who led 4-3 until Robbie Grossman's home run off David Phelps in the eighth. Eduardo Nunez homered twice off Marlins starter Adam Conley, and Grossman doubled and scored in a two-run first inning.
''We just weren't able to add on. That's the kind of games we've been playing,'' manager Don Mattingly said. ''We're in one-run games. We really haven't left ourselves a lot of room for error. We put a lot of pressure on our pen to absolutely hold teams there.''
Buddy Boshers (1-0), the eighth Twins pitcher of the game, struck out two batters in the 11th for his first major league victory. The Twins bullpen, which began the game with the second-highest opponent batting average (.279) in the majors, logged 6 2/3 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts and three hits allowed.
Fernando Abad struck out the side in the 10th inning, finishing the frame with an animated fanning of Giancarlo Stanton with Ichiro Suzuki on second base following his single and steal. Left-handers are 3 for 27 this season against Abad, who lowered his ERA to 0.87 in 26 appearances.
''Got to give credit to their bullpen,'' first baseman Chris Johnson said, adding: ''We just struggled to get that big hit.''
Sparked by a single from the ageless Ichiro Suzuki, the first batter of the game, the Marlins scored in all but one of five innings against Twins starter Pat Dean. Adeiny Hechavarria tripled to start the third and came home on a wild pitch. Martin Prado hit the first of his two doubles in the fifth inning, before Christian Yelich's RBI single.
But that wasn't enough.
Nunez, who led off for Minnesota in a game last week with an inside-the-park home run, crushed the second pitch from Conley into the third deck above left field. Then with two outs in the fifth, Nunez hit one into the bullpen behind right-center that barely eluded the glove of Marcell Ozuna to pull the Twins within 4-3.
Conley, making just his third career interleague start and his first this season, acknowledged his mistake in approach in the American League ballpark against the free-swinging Twins.
''I kind of went into the game thinking that there couldn't be that drastic of a difference between an AL lineup and NL lineup. I learned that I'd underestimated that,'' Conley said, adding: ''Even with two strikes on some of those guys, I thought I made some good pitches but they never came off the fastball.''
The 42-year-old Suzuki, who moved within 32 hits of 3,000 for his major league career, was in his fourth season in 2004 when Twins manager Paul Molitor was hired as Seattle's hitting coach. The post lasted only one year, as he was fired after the team's 63-99 finish, but Suzuki set the all-time season record with 262 hits. ''It was one of the few highlights of being a Mariner,'' said Molitor, who is 10th on the all-time hits list. Suzuki, who came from Japan at age 27, is 31st.
Stanton was the cleanup hitter again after batting fifth last weekend and getting a rest Sunday. ''More a feeling, than anything,'' said Mattingly, indicating he'd move Stanton and Ozuna back and forth in the two spots moving forward. Stanton went 0 for 5 and is 1 for 19 in five June games, dropping the three-time All-Star's batting average to .197.
LHP Wei-Yin Chin (3-2, 4.25 ERA) will pitch Wednesday for the Marlins. He has a 2.96 ERA in four road starts this season. The Twins will send RHP Ricky Nolasco (2-4, 4.93 ERA) to the mound to face for the first time the Marlins, the team he debuted with in 2006 and pitched for for nearly eight seasons.