Baseball / Sports

Momentum slips away as Marlins lose three of four to Padres

SAN DIEGO -- After falling behind Yonder Alonso 2-0 with one on and one out in the fourth inning Sunday, Henderson Alvarez got a visit from catcher Jeff Mathis. As Mathis returned to the plate, Alvarez crouched behind the mound and slammed the rosin bag.

His disposition would not improve.

The Padres batted around and aided by a pair of Alvarez walks hung a four-spot on the Marlins en route to a series-clinching 5-4 win at Petco Park. Coming off an 8-1 homestand, the Marlins were anticipating much better on the first leg of this 11-game, three-city California trip. The pitching and hitting were equally to blame for the humbling result.

After losing the opener 3-1, the Padres' season run total stood at 92 over their first 36 games. The last three games they blitz Marlins' pitching, scoring 24 runs on 36 hits over their final 23 offensive innings.

Meanwhile, their pitching confounded the Marlins. Top starter Andrew Cashner didn't appear in the series, but he couldn't have done much better than Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross, Eric Stults and Robbie Erlin. That quartet combined to go 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA, 19 hits, four walks and 31 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings.

The Padres totaled 48 strikeouts, setting a franchise record in a four-game series. The Marlins with that total tied their four-game series mark set April 18-21, 2013 in Cincinnati. They also held the Marlins to a .143 batting average with runners in scoring position (3 for 21).

"You tip your hat to them the way they came out and put it to us the last few days," catcher Jeff Mathis said. "We just have to come out and be better."

Christian Yelich sparked his team with a solo homer off Dale Thayer during a four-run eighth that included a two-run Jeff Baker triple. With the tying run on third and two out, pinch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out to cap an 0-for-11, five-strikeout series.

Two Huston Street walks loaded the bases with two out for Baker, who fell behind 0-2 and ultimately grounded into a game-ending fielder's choice.

"I'm glad we showed some life at the end of that game and put together some nice at-bats," manager Mike Redmond said. "We gave ourselves a chance to win after being down 5-0. Hopefully we can build on that (Monday) night in L.A."

For the second time in as many games, a Marlins' starter totaled more walks than strikeouts. Coming off a shutout of the Mets, Alvarez could not sustain that momentum. His day was done after a four-run, four-hit, two-walk fourth inning that gave the Padres a five-run cushion.

The beginning of Alvarez's outing was no better as Will Venable deposited his second pitch into the right-field seats. Alvarez has allowed twice as many homers (four) in 48 2/3 innings as he did in 102 2/3 innings last season.

"My fastball, I couldn't throw for strikes and I was leaving everything up," Alvarez said. "When you do that the problems come. My sinker wasn't doing anything. It wasn't a good day for me."

Overall, it was a rough series for the rotation. Even with Jacob Turner holding the Padres to a run over six innings in the opener, the four starters went a combined 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA, nine walks, 14 strikeouts and .298 opponents' batting average (25 for 84). The Padres, who began the series with 19 homers through their first 35 games, hit at least one off every starter and totaled six in the series.

"We had three shaky starts," Redmond said. "I don't think any of us expected that, especially coming into this ballpark, but give their hitters some credit. They battled us tough and made us throw a lot of pitches."

The schedule doesn't get any easier. Before returning to South Florida, where they are 17-5, the Marlins have seven games against the Dodgers and Giants. Those two teams overall are a combined 11 games over .500. Losers of three straight, the Marlins take a 3-13 road record in Dodger Stadium.

"We were coming off a monster homestand where everybody pitched well and everything was going great," Redmond said. "We're being tested on the road. We'll find out what we're made of."

(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

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