MIAMI (AP) - Leo Nunez has been close to perfect in save opportunities this season.
But on Friday night against the Milwaukee Brewers, the National League saves leader coughed up a two-run home run to Ryan Braun in the ninth inning, resulting in a 6-5 loss for the Florida Marlins.
``It was a fastball up,' catcher John Buck said. ``I don't know if he just got under it. He was trying to throw it down and away and it just tailed right over, middle in and up. Obviously, not a good spot.'
Yuniesky Betancourt led off the ninth with a single setting the stage for Braun, who pinch-hit for pitcher Mike McClendon (3-0).
``I didn't really think about him coming in until the ninth,' Buck said. ``I knew if it was close they would do that. I saw him scurrying down there, loosening himself up. He's making the big bucks.You know he's sitting over there waiting. It stinks.'
It was the Marlins' fourth loss in five games
``It hurts because we had our right guys on the mound and the guys battled back to get the lead and then we relied on those guys to close the game,' Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said. ``They've been doing a great job so far this season. Once in a while you're going to get these kinds of games.'
It was the first career pinch-hit home run for Braun.
``Honestly I doubt I have ever hit a pinch-hit home run,' said the 27-year old three-time All-Star. ``I haven't pinch-hit many times in my life.'
Braun stepped to the plate without taking any swings in the cage to prepare him for the at-bat.
``Probably the first time ever in my career I've gotten an at-bat without swinging at all,' Braun said. ``No batting practice, no flips in the cages, no tee, no nothing. Just kind of went up there, simplified the game, saw the ball, hit the ball.'
It was Nunez's second blown save of the season in 21 chances.
``It's easy to say the bullpen gave it away but we had plenty of chances to score and we didn't,' Rodriguez said.
The home run was Braun's 13th of the season, but just the first since May 15.
``It's one of the bigger home runs in my career,' Braun said.
John Axford pitched the ninth for the Brewers and issued a leadoff walk to Omar Infante. With two outs, Axford walked the bases loaded before striking out Brett Hayes to earn his 14th save in 16 opportunities.
Prince Fielder homered and Corey Hart had three hits for the Brewers.
Gaby Sanchez and Mike Stanton homered for the Marlins.
Fielder's homer gave the Brewers a 2-0 lead before Sanchez cut it 2-1 with his home run. The Brewers stretched the lead to 4-1 with a sacrifice fly by Casey McGehee and an RBI single by Mark Kotsay.
``We came out swinging good and they just held us for a long time,' Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
The Marlins scored three runs in the fourth to tie the game at 4-4. Stanton hit his solo homer, Emilio Bonifacio had an RBI triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Chris Coghlan to tie the game.
Greg Dobbs gave the Marlins a 5-4 lead in the sixth with an RBI single.
Brewers starter Randy Wolf allowed four runs in five innings while Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco allowed four runs in six innings.
``That's a huge win for us,' Wolf said. ``We know that this Marlins team is a very talented young team.'
Notes: Following the game, the Brewers optioned McClendon to Triple-A New Orleans and reinstated LHP Zach Braddock from the DL. ... Marlins SS Hanley Ramirez missed his fourth straight game with inflammation in his back. Rodriguez expects to make a decision by Monday if Ramirez will go on the DL. ... Before the game, Marlins RHP Clay Hensley was placed on the 15-day DL with a right shoulder sprain. IF Ozzie Martinez was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans to replace Hensley. ... Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin threw out the ceremonial first pitch. ... The announced attendance was 15,315, which included 767 dogs for the Bark in the Park promotion.
The Associated Press News Service
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