One mistake costs JJ as Marlins drop finale

One mistake costs JJ as Marlins drop finale

One mistake costs JJ as Marlins drop finale
PHILADELPHIA -- The Marlins probably will have no issue with leaving Philadelphia.

Miami headed home after getting swept by the surging Phillies via a 3-1 loss on Wednesday afternoon. Each of the series' three games were decided by two runs, so a pitch here and a bounce there could have altered the outcomes.

That's no consolation for the last-place Marlins, who with one more loss would clinch a third consecutive losing season.

"That's kind of how it's been going for us all year," said starter Josh Johnson, the hard-luck loser of Wednesday's pitchers' duel. "Whether it's a pitch or a play or a guy taking an extra base or something like that, it seems like it's always going against us."

Though Johnson (8-12) thought he was "effectively wild" early in the game, the 6-foot-7 right-hander didn't allow a hit in the first five innings. Both he and Phillies starter Cliff Lee were at a bit of an advantage, as the afternoon shadows made it tough for hitters to see the ball.

With the game tied at 1 in the seventh, Johnson made a costly mistake that decided the game. Though he aimed to throw down and inside to Jimmy Rollins, Johnson's 94-mph fastball cut across the plate. Rollins, who hit a key home run in Tuesday's game, didn't miss, driving the ball into the right-field seats to put the Phillies ahead by two runs.

The Marlins couldn't get much going offensively against Cliff Lee (5-7). They scored just one unearned run on four hits against the former Cy Young Award winner, but also squandered a couple chances to score.

Two of their hits off Lee came in the second inning, when they had runners on first and second with no outs. But Justin Ruggiano struck out looking on an inside fastball -- he argued the call and was ejected by home-plate umpire Clint Fagan -- and John Buck grounded out and Donnie Murphy struck out to end the threat.

"With runners in scoring position and nobody out, it's a big at-bat," said Ruggiano, who maintained after seeing the replay the pitch was off the plate. "Even if it's in the second inning."

Back-to-back Philadelphia fielding errors again gave Miami runners on first and second in the sixth, this time with one out. Giancarlo Stanton flied out to left field, but Carlos Lee came through with a first-pitch single to drive in Donovan Solano with the game's first run.

After the Phillies tied the game in the sixth and went ahead in the seventh, the Marlins didn't have an answer. They were held at bay by hard-throwing right-hander Phillippe Aumont in the eighth and closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth. It was Philadelphia's seventh straight victory.

"I saw [Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel] early today," Miami skipper Ozzie Guillen said. "He said they've pitched better [lately]. They catch the ball better, and they hit when they have to hit. That's the reason they're back in the pennant race."

Johnson, who retired 12 in a row before Rollins singled to end his no-hit bid in the sixth, fell to 3-5 in his last 10 starts, despite posting a stellar 2.88 ERA in that span. Rollins' was the first home run Johnson allowed since a rough outing against the Dodgers on Aug. 25.

"Both of them pitched well," Guillen said of Johnson and Lee. "One guy made the wrong pitch to the wrong guy and won the game. It was very tough to see the ball today all the way through the game. I think J.J. pitched good enough to win, but we couldn't do any damage to Lee."

"[Johnson] was pitching good," Manuel said. "We've been getting hung up. We weren't hitting too many balls hard on him. He kept the ball down."

Despite his effort, Johnson fell to 8-12 on the season. Asked if he would have had a hard time believing someone who told him at the beginning of the year he would have this record, he said he would have.

"I probably wouldn't be too happy about that," Johnson said. "But I've just got to deal with it ... pitch better."

Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.