Three home runs — including an inside-the park homer — sink Marlins in loss to Rays

Chris O'Meara/AP
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Kevin Kiermaier hit the first pitch Pablo Lopez threw and sent it to center field. Jesus Sanchez, attempting to be aggressive and record the out, made a quick sprint and dove trying to catch the sinking line drive.

The extra effort didn’t pay off.

Sanchez was in the right position as he dove forward, but the ball went just past his glove and rolled to the wall at Tropicana Field as Kiermaier raced around the basepaths for an inside-the-park home run.

”It was a play I thought was going to end up succeeding,” Sanchez said. “I dove and I couldn’t make the play.”

One pitch in, and the Miami Marlins were already playing from behind.

It remained that way throughout the night as they fell 4-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays to begin a two-game series. Miami is 18-23, while Tampa Bay improves to 25-17. This is the third time the Marlins have been shut out this season.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly called the Kiermaier ball that Sanchez dove for a “tweener.” With Tropicana Field having artificial outfield turf, Mattingly said an oufielder needs to either be confident he can make the diving grab on that play or step back to keep the ball in front of him to limit the damage.

“Sanchi had a pretty good beat on it,” Mattingly said. “It looked like he got there and just kind of missed it.”

Lopez overall gave up four runs on nine hits while striking out eight over eight innings. All of his runs came via home run: The Kiermaier inside-the-parker, a solo home run to former Marlin Harold Ramirez in the second and a two-run shot to Ji-Man Choi in the sixth. Prior to Tuesday, Lopez had given up just two home runs through 46 innings all season.

Lopez’s season ERA has increased by nearly a full run over his last two starts — from 1.05 to 2.04 — after giving up seven runs over his last 9 1/3 innings.

Miami’s offense, meanwhile, couldn’t find an answer against Tampa Bay starter Shane McClanahan, who struck out nine and allowed just four hits and two walks over six scoreless innings.

“He’s got good stuff,” Mattingly said. “We just didn’t really get anything going and anytime we did get anything going, it didn’t seem like we were able to capitalize. We weren’t able to get one across.

Their best chance against McClanahan came in his sixth and final inning. Garrett Cooper, batting in the leadoff spot for the first time in his career, opened the inning with a single, moved to second on a Jesus Aguilar single and then reached third when Jorge Soler hit into a double play.

A McClanahan fastball to Avisail Garcia then went wild to the backstop. Cooper started to take off for home, then retreated when the ball bounced back toward home plate, then took off again when the ball skipped past Rays catcher Mike Zunino and McClanahan slipped. Tampa Bay third baseman Isaac Paredes scooped up the ball and made the throw to Zunino at home plate in time to tag Cooper for the inning-ending out.

“Kind of got caught in the middle,” Cooper said. “I saw it get past the pitcher and he slipped, so I thought I had a better lane to get through and score, but their third baseman was there. ... It’s just a tough play, tough read. It didn’t work out in our favor.”

The series concludes Tuesday, with Cody Poteet (0-0, 0.78 ERA) on the mound for the Marlins against the Rays’ Drew Rasmussen (4-1, 2.33 ERA).

Injury updates

Neither shortstop Miguel Rojas (left calf) nor second baseman Jazz Chisholm Jr. (left hamstring) started on Tuesday. Rojas said pregame he is feeling fine and anticipates being back in the lineup sooner than later. Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Chisholm received treatment on Tuesday and that the club would re-evaluate him before Wednesday’s series finale.

Jon Berti (recovering from COVID-19) and Joey Wendle (right hamstring strain) began a rehab assignment with Single A Jupiter on Tuesday. Berti went 1 for 3 with a double while playing six innings of defense at second base. Wendle went 1 for 4 with a single and a run scored while playing seven innings of defense at third base.

Jesus Luzardo (left forearm strain) did not travel with the Marlins and is continuing his rehab process in Miami. He has not begun throwing yet.