Jennings backs Ramos after rare blown save

Jennings backs Ramos after rare blown save

PHILADELPHIA -- Based on his first-half numbers, the Marlins felt A.J. Ramos was worthy of All-Star consideration. The argument could certainly be made, as he was 14-of-15 in save chances since taking over as closer while sporting a 1.11 ERA.

But on Sunday, in his first appearance in a week, Ramos lacked the sharpness he's displayed all season, and he surrendered a two-run homer in the ninth inning to Jeff Francoeur that lifted the Phillies to an 8-7 win and a series sweep over the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.

Ramos hadn't pitched since July 12, the day before the All-Star break, when he worked in a non-save situation. The fact Miami lost on Friday and Saturday night meant Ramos wasn't used in either game.

When his number was called on a sweltering hot Sunday, he walked Carlos Ruiz on five pitches, and after a slider was off the plate to Francoeur, the next pitch was a 93-mph fastball that was crushed over the wall in left-center.

"I definitely wasn't as sharp," Ramos said. "When you go out there, they're asking me to get the job done, no matter what. I wasn't able to do it today."

No excuses.

Still, the Marlins have no reservations about Ramos, who has earned his role for being absolutely brilliant in the first half. He allowed just one homer in 40 2/3 innings, and it happened to be a walk-off shot to Edwin Encarnacion at Toronto on June 9.

Opponents batted .139 off Ramos in the first half.

"A.J. has been nails all year," manager Dan Jennings said. "I hope we get the chance tomorrow to run him back out there and let him save a game."

Now a season-worst 16 games under .500 (38-54), the Marlins have to pick up the pieces as they head to Arizona for three games.

"You have to," Ramos said. "You're not going to just quit the season right now. We've got to come back tomorrow and try to win."

On Sunday, it was a matter of execution. Ramos threw seven pitches, with five out of the strike zone.

"When you get behind in the count, it makes it easier to narrow down the pitches," Ramos said. "I have a lot of pitches, but when none of them are going for strikes, it's easier to know what's coming for the next pitch.

"It was all pitches. None of them were sharp. Even the [first] pitch I threw to Francoeur, the slider was really loopy. They just weren't sharp, plain and simple."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.