Marlins’ Late Hit Avoids Perfect Game Loss

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MIAMI (AP) — Almost having a perfect game pitched against them was stinging enough for the Miami Marlins. Squandering another opportunity to remain in wild-card contention hurt even more.

The Marlins couldn’t get a runner on base against Los Angeles Dodgers starter Rich Hill through seven innings and managed two hits against the bullpen in a 5-0 loss Saturday night.

“This time of year you turn it because you have a game (Sunday),” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said “But this time of year you’re running out of games. They’re not just losses now. They hurt you pretty good. It kind of takes your spirit a little bit.”

The Marlins (70-72) have lost 11 of their last 15 and are 5 1/2 games behind San Francisco in the wild-card standings.

Hill (3-0) pitched seven perfect innings but first-year Dodgers manager Dave Roberts removed him to start the eighth. Hill had thrown 89 pitches and struck out nine before giving way to Joe Blanton to start the eighth inning.

“I feel sick to my stomach,” Roberts said. “Rich had an opportunity of a lifetime. You take the personal aside. As a manager you are taking a lot of information.

“We have been dealing with Richie’s blister and that caused him to miss a lot of time this season.”

Acquired from Oakland on Aug. 1, Hill spent three weeks on the disabled before making his Dodgers debut Aug. 24. Facing a group of more than 20 reporters in front of his locker, Hill felt he could have continued pitching.

“Obviously, I didn’t want to come out of the game,” Hill said. “But I think there is a bigger picture here and we all know what it is. Dave was in a very difficult position. You look at it and move on. That’s all you can do.”

Blanton struck out Christian Yelich and retired Marcell Ozuna a groundout before Jeff Francoeur singled to left. Grant Dayton gave up Dee Gordon’s two-out infield hit in the ninth that put two on and Kenley Jansen retired Martin Prado on a grounder to complete the two-hitter.

“In 11 years in the big leagues I’ve never had a no-hitter against my team,” Francoeur said. “I was praying to God this wasn’t the first time tonight. Luckily, we were able to come through with two hits.”

Hill didn’t pitch in the majors between May 29 and July 2 because of a strained left groin. The blister in the middle finger of his pitching hand began in his final month with the A’s.

On April 8, Roberts removed Ross Strippling with a no-hit bid after 7 1/3 innings and 100 pitches in a game the Dodgers lost to San Francisco 3-2 in 10 innings.

Said Roberts, “to go 89 pitches, weighing the risks versus the opportunity and talking to the training staff and getting their advice and weighing it all up and what is right for Rich and the Dodgers, this is the decision I made.”

Hill entered a combined 11-3 with a 1.94 ERA in 16 starts this year. He has just three complete games in 91 big league starts over 12 seasons.

Left fielder Yasiel Puig, brought back from the minors on Sept. 2, made an outstanding diving catch for the final out of the seventh. Prado hit a drive to deep left-center and Puig sprinted and as he approached the warning track dived toward the wall to make the catch.

Joc Pederson made a sliding and diving catch on a drive to center by Ozuna in the second.

“That was an incredible play and when you see a no-hitter or perfect game, you never know what’s going to happen,” Mattingly said.

Pederson connected in the fifth and seventh innings and Corey Seager and Justin Turner hit consecutive homers in the sixth, with Seager connecting for a two-run drive.

Tom Koehler (9-11) allowed four runs and six hits in five plus innings and Brian Ellington gave up Pederson’s second homer — his 22nd this season. Koehler is 0-3 in his last five starts and has not won since Aug. 9.

CLOSE CALL

For the second consecutive night, a foul ball hit the plate umpire. Tony Randazzo absorbed the shot after Josh Reddick’s foul swing bounced off Miami catcher Jeff Mathis’ mitt and struck Randazzo’s mask in the second inning. Temporarily dazed, Randazzo stayed in the game. On Friday, Brian Knight was hit in the mask area with a foul ball and left the game in the fifth. Chris Guccione replaced Knight on Saturday.

ETHIER RETURN

Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier pinch-hit in the ninth and grounded out to first in his season debut. Ethier broke his leg during spring training.

TRAINERS ROOM

Marlins: Pitchers Wei-Yin Chen and Bryan Morris are to throw simulated games Sunday in attempts to determine if they will return during the final three weeks of the season. Chen has been sidelined since July 24 because of left elbow inflammation. Morris has missed the last three months because of a herniated lumbar disk in his back.

UP NEXT

RHP Kenta Maeda (14-8) starts Sunday’s series finale for the Dodgers and RHP Jose Urena (3-6) hprd for the Marlins.

(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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