HOUSTON (AP) - Houston starter Bud Norris was in a groove and feeling strong, but he quickly hit a wall.
Norris got out of a jam in the second inning allowing just one run, but he couldn't duplicate the escape in the sixth.
The Marlins put up three runs in the sixth capped by a two-run homer by Greg Dobbs, then jumped on the Houston bullpen for a second straight night Saturday to earn a 7-5 win over the struggling Astros.
Norris, who had allowed only two hits and one run before the sixth, said he thinks he has the stuff to be a good pitcher, but two pitches doomed him Saturday.
``I threw the ball well. I had a misstep there in the second,' said Norris, who allowed four runs and five hits with six strikeouts in six innings. ``The ball started cutting on me. I fine tuned it and got back in the groove. I held them in check for five innings. The sixth inning kind of got away from me there.'
Fernando Abad (1-1) allowed two runs in the seventh to take the loss, and Enerio Del Rosario gave up an unearned run in the eighth. It was the second consecutive night the Astros bullpen gave up three runs.
``That's going to be one of the things that we have to continue to do,' Houston manager Brad Mills said about finding consistency in the bullpen. ``We have the arms down there that can do that. I think we have seen that at times.'
Mills said he thinks his bullpen can do better.
``We need to give them some time to get it together, and when we do that, we will be able to stretch a lot of this out,' Mills said.
Norris, who gave up five runs in four innings against Philadelphia in his first outing, was happy with his start except for key pitches to Mike Stanton and Dobbs.
``It's hard to go out there and throw 100 pitches and have every one of them be perfect,' Norris said. ``They capitalized on the mistakes that I made. Once again that happened tonight. ... It's frustrating, but you have to go out there and get better.'
The Marlins trailed by three in the sixth before an RBI double by Stanton made it 4-2. Dobbs tied it with his two-out, two-run homer that landed in the right-field bullpen later in the sixth.
``It was a pretty big moment for us to get us back in that game because Norris had been throwing pretty well,' Dobbs said.
Chris Coghlan and Omar Infante each hit a run-scoring double in the seventh before Dobbs pushed the lead to 7-4 with an RBI double in the eighth.
Hunter Pence had two hits and drove in two runs for the Astros, who have lost seven of their first eight games.
Marlins starter Javier Vazquez (1-1) allowed eight hits and four runs in six innings for the win. Leo Nunez gave up one hit in a scoreless ninth for his third save.
Coghlan hit the second of three straight doubles off Abad in the seventh to score Wes Helms and make it 5-4. Infante hit the third double to send Coghlan home and push the lead to 6-4. Abad retired Logan Morrison before he was replaced by Wilton Lopez, who struck out Stanton for the third out.
Mills was disappointed that his team let the lead slip away.
``Anytime you have the lead late in a game, you want to be able to put it away,' Mills said. ``When it doesn't happen, you wish it never did, but it's going to happen.'
Brett Wallace drove in a run with a single in the eighth inning that made it 7-5.
Houston stretched the lead to 4-1 with Pence's RBI single in the fifth.
Norris hit a double that rolled into the left-field corner and drove in Bill Hall to put Houston up 2-1 in the second. An RBI single by Angel Sanchez pushed the lead to 3-1 later in the inning. Sanchez also doubled before scoring on a double by Pence in the first to give Houston a 1-0 lead.
The Marlins tied it at 1 when Stanton scored on a groundout by Donnie Murphy in the second.
NOTES: Astros SS Clint Barmes, on the disabled list with a broken left hand, began playing catch Saturday after X-rays showed his hand was healing. ... Former Astros star Jeff Bagwell joined the television broadcast for Saturday's game. Bagwell, who served as Houston's hitting coach at the end of last season, will help call each Saturday home game this season.
The Associated Press News Service
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