Mattingly wasn't exactly exaggerating. After scoring 19 runs in the series' first two games, the team went 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position (stranding them in six innings) and left 16 runners on base.
The most notable missed opportunity came in the bottom of the eighth, when newly acquired Adrian Gonzalez flied out to deep right with the bases loaded and two outs. The ball trailed to the warning track in right field, but Gonzalez said he knew from the second it hit the bat that he wasn't going to deliver the dramatic grand slam that the fans in Dodger Stadium eagerly anticipated.
"It was a slider that didn't break as much as I anticipated it to," said Gonzalez, who went 2-for-4 in his second game with the Dodgers. "I just hit it off the end just enough. It was a slider that started away and ended away."
It looked like Saturday's momentum was carrying over in the first inning. After five straight games of allowing at least one run in the first, the Dodgers got things started with an RBI single to left by Gonzalez to score Nick Punto.
But the team stranded runners on second and third in that inning, a problem that has plagued the team often this year and continued for the rest of the day. Despite coming up empty in the bottom of the eighth, Gonzalez should help in that department with his .404 average with runners in scoring position.
"Them making that trade to get those guys, it makes them a lot deeper," Marlins starter Mark Buehrle said. "When they've got [Andre] Ethier hitting sixth, that's a pretty tough lineup."
Speaking of Ethier, the right fielder came into the game with a hit in his last 10 at-bats, which tied a franchise record. Two away from tying the Major League mark, Ethier got caught looking in the first to end the streak.
The Marlins tied the game in the fourth off starter Aaron Harang on a towering home run by Giancarlo Stanton to deep center field. It was Stanton's third home run in as many games in the series and his 29th of the season.
Rob Brantly gave the Marlins the lead in the next inning with his first career home run, a two-run shot that would prove to be the game-winner.
Down, 3-1, in the seventh, the Dodgers cut the deficit in half on an RBI single by Ethier that scored Matt Kemp after a Gonzalez hit that put runners on first and third.
The next batter, Luis Cruz, popped up near the first-base line, but catcher Brantly couldn't come up with the catch off his glove. Had it stayed fair, the infield fly rule would have been in effect, and Gonzalez, who was still on second, was tagged out with confusion throughout the infield. Ethier was called out for interfering with Carlos Lee at first.
Manager Don Mattingly argued the call, later saying he knew there couldn't be two outs in that situation, and it was determined Cruz's ball rolled foul, nullifying the infield fly rule. Ethier remained out on interference, Gonzalez went back to second and Cruz returned to the plate before flying out to left to end the inning and a strange sequence of events.
The Marlins got that run back in the next frame when Hanley Ramirez was charged with an error on a Bryan Petersen ground ball to short with two outs that scored Greg Dobbs. Jose Reyes and Lee added back-to-back solo homers in the ninth for insurance.
"It's not really the time of year to go, 'Oh, we'll get them tomorrow' or 'We have a long way to go'" Mattingly said. "There is some time left, but you have to play these games like every one is important.
"We give ourselves lots of chances to do it, we just didn't do it."
Harang lasted 5 1/3 innings before being lifted with Stanton coming to the plate.
He gave up three runs on six hits and a walk while taking his eighth loss of the year.
"Not putting too much pressure on ourself," Harang said was the key for the team down the stretch. "We've got so many guys in this lineup that can do damage and get that big hit when they need it. We can't have one guy feel like he has to take all that weight on. It's everybody doing their part."
Newly acquired starter Josh Beckett will try to do his Monday night when he makes his team debut against the Rockies in Colorado.