MIAMI -- If last weekend's series against the Oakland Athletics and their major-league best 48-30 record offered any kind of barometer for the Miami Marlins, the readings weren't good.
In completing a three-game sweep with a 4-3 win Sunday, the Athletics showed how much mileage is between the Marlins and elite status. As usual, the Marlins competed but couldn't overcome their miscues. The most glaring Sunday: a first-pitch Andrew Heaney fastball down the middle Nate Freiman turned into a three-run homer during a four-run sixth.
"He really just made one bad pitch and they took advantage of it," manager Mike Redmond said. "That ended up being the difference. Of course, we battle back and gave ourselves a chance. We just needed another big hit, I guess probably the story of our month.
"We just played a great team. We were in every single game, could have won all three of them. It shows where we need to continue to work and get better and execute and all those things that go with winning ballgames. We just weren't good enough this weekend."
The Marlins at 39-43 are a season-worst four games below .500 for the third time and first since they were 5-9 and 6-10 on April 14 and 16, respectively. Since starting the season 19-6 at Marlins Park, they've lost 15 of their 21 games at home.
Heaney held the Athletics scoreless on four hits through 5 2/3 innings. What started as a harmless two-out, Albert Callaspo single in the sixth ended with Freiman's three-run shot. Freiman, who the Athletics promoted Sunday to replace sidelined outfielder Josh Reddick, was leading the Pacific Coast League with 69 RBI.
He smacked Heaney's first offering into the Clevelander in left. In a nine-pitch span, Heaney watched the Marlins' 1-0 lead evaporate. Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson also reached on singles, the second of which tied the game. Down 0-2, Donaldson did a nice job getting the barrel on a slider and driving it through the left side.
"An 0-2 hit and on top of that leaving one middle-middle and the guy put a really good swing on it," Heaney said. "I was down in the zone throwing fastballs in and getting it by him. That one, he caught up to it. If I make a pitch (in) he probably doesn't catch up to it, but I threw it middle-middle."
Of the 10 runs Heaney has allowed, six have come as a result of home runs. David Wright hit a solo shot in Heaney's major league debut. His last time out in Philadelphia, Marlon Byrd hit a two-run blast in the first.
Six of the Athletics' hits off Heaney came with two out. Heaney's first two games he held the Mets and Phillies to 3 for 13 with two out. His opponents' two-out average now is .375 (9 for 24) with three homers.
The Athletics didn't get a quality start from Jesse Chavez or Sonny Gray the first two games, but Tommy Milone delivered in the finale. Two pitches into the game, he was down 1-0 when Christian Yelich, in his first game off the disabled list, tripled and scored on an Alberto Callaspo throwing error.
Milone held the Marlins to a walk and a single over their next 15 plate appearances. The Marlins did not get their third of four hits off him until Marcell Ozuna opened the sixth with a pinch-hit homer that cut the Athletics' lead to two.
Though Heaney gave up as many hits Sunday as he did his first two starts (11 innings) combined, he can take away plenty from the outing. His 68.4 percent strike rate was his best so far. He didn't have great fastball command early and the first time through the order fell behind seven of nine hitters. All but two of the final 15 batters he faced saw a first-pitch strike, including five on sliders and changeups.
The lone extra-base hit Heaney allowed was the Freiman blast. He did not walk a batter and struck out four.
"He looked more comfortable to me," Redmond said. "You could tell by the swings he was way more comfortable and I think that will continue as he gets more and more starts. He's going to be fine."
(c)2014 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services