Johnson solid, but Marlins fall to Rockies

Johnson solid, but Marlins fall to Rockies

Johnson solid, but Marlins fall to Rockies
DENVER -- Josh Johnson gives up very few home runs for the Marlins. And Jordan Pacheco rarely hits them for the Rockies.

To be sure, the Rockies rookie third baseman has shown his prowess at the plate. He entered Sunday's game hitting .307, which ranked second among National League rookies, and he was third with 20 doubles.

But he's not used to taking a satisfying trot round the bases. And Johnson rarely suffers through that. Pacheco had gone 279 at-bats since his last homer on May 15. But he came up with two out in the fourth, representing the go-ahead run, and drove Johnson's first-pitch fastball over the fence in left to give the Rockies a 3-2 win.

"He's got a good swing," manager Ozzie Guillen said. "You put a good swing in this park, you're going to have a chance to produce. You see the next at-bat, he hit a line drive to right field. I don't think this kid wants to do much with the ball. Whatever pitch it is, he tries to put a good swing on the ball and he did it for the home run."

Johnson had yielded just nine homers this season and was tied with Johnny Cueto of the Reds for the second-fewest homers allowed in the Majors with at least 24 starts. And Johnson entered the game having given up just four homers in 59 innings on the road.

"The pitch to Pacheco was a decent pitch," Johnson said. "But he got his hands in there and got it out."

The inning began with an infield single by Josh Rutledge and an opposite-field run-scoring double by Dexter Fowler. "Two big at-bats, one from Dexter Fowler and one big swing from Jordan Pacheco," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "And our guys made it stand up." Giancarlo Stanton failed to homer for the first time in seven games at Coors Field. He was intentionally walked twice -- in the first with two out and a runner on third and in the fifth with one out and runners on second and third -- and struck out and grounded out on his other two plate appearances.

"I've only faced him twice now," said winning pitcher Adam Ottavino, who intentionally walked Stanton in the fifth. "Once in Miami, I struck him out, and here he hit a home run. So it's either really good or really bad. I wasn't upset that we walked him. I understood it. ... Definitely, it's always good to be careful with a hot guy like that."

The first three games of this series were played at night. Under the lights, Stanton said the forest green background -- ivy growing on the batter's eye and a grove of pine and spruce trees in front of it -- was very conducive to hitting. On a cloudless, sunny afternoon, the view from the batter's box was less enticing.

"It's a weird brightness," Stanton said. "It's not bright enough for shades but just kind of lit up. The background is a little weird."

That was the adjective Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen used when talking about the game where his team went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and twice left the bases loaded on groundouts to shortstop by catcher John Buck, who led off the fourth with a home run.

"A lot of weird things happened in the game," Guillen said. "Very weird. You don't see that too often."

For example, after Justin Ruggiano led off the fifth with a single, Jose Reyes lofted a fly ball to short left field. Left fielder Andrew Brown got his glove on the ball just as shortstop Rutledge ran into Brown's outstretched arm. The ball popped loose and shot toward the left-field foul line, putting runners on second and third.

Carlos Lee grounded back to Ottavino, who worked three scoreless innings in relief of starter Drew Pomeranz. After Stanton was intentionally walked, Donnie Murphy struck out. Buck then grounded out, just as he did in the first when the Marlins scored an unearned run on a groundout after Emilio Bonifacio reached base on Rutledge's throwing error and Ruggiano doubled.

The Marlins kept the game close in the eighth with an unusual double play, albeit one that ended with what appeared to be the fourth missed call of the game. With the bases loaded and two out in the eighth, pinch hitter Chris Nelson lined a ball off the glove of shortstop Reyes. He threw to third for a force out, and third baseman Greg Dobbs threw home and a sliding Tyler Colvin was called out, although replays showed otherwise.

When Bonafacio was called safe on Rutledge's wide throw in the first, Colvin had his foot on the base. Rutledge was given credit for an infield single leading off the fourth for the Rockies first hit of the game, but he appeared to be out. And Donovan Solano, who led off the second with a single, was called safe on a stolen base attempt when replays showed otherwise.

All that matters, of course, is the final score, which resulted in Johnson tying his season-high three-game losing streak. Although he's just 2-3 in his past six starts, Johnson, the Marlins ace and their Opening Day starter, has a 1.99 ERA (40 2/3 innings, 9 earned runs).

"It's been a lot better," Johnson said. It's been a lot closer to what I'm kind of accustomed to. But I still got to get my team wins, whatever it takes."

Jack Etkin is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.