MIAMI – The Pittsburgh Pirates’ struggling relief pitching of late finally cost them a victory.
The bullpen endured another meltdown Sunday, blowing a two-run lead in the eighth inning, and Casey McGehee hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th to help the Miami Marlins avert a series sweep by winning 3-2.
Pittsburgh relievers gave up 11 earned runs in 9 2/3 innings in the series, an ERA of 10.24.
“I don’t think it’s any one particular thing that has tripped up any of our guys,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “You have to look at each game. It’s like a golf course. Each hole plays different.”
On Sunday, Vance Worley pitched seven innings in his season debut and left with a 2-0 lead.
But the Marlins tied the game in the eighth when McGehee hit a two-out, two-run double off Tony Watson, who entered the game with a streak of 21 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings.
“With the way Vince pitched, you always feel bad not being able to hold the lead for him,” Watson said. “But Casey is a good RBI guy this year. That’s what he does, and he made me pay. Sometimes to have to tip your hat.”
The Marlins gave McGehee a chance to return to the majors after he spent 2013 in Japan, and he has repeatedly rewarded their faith.
He leads the majors with 30 hits with runners in scoring position, and he’s batting .411 in those situations.
The Marlins earned their sixth walkoff win and broke a three-game losing streak.
The Pirates had won four in a row and were bidding for their first three-game series sweep in Miami since 1993. They won the first two games because they totaled 35 hits, but failed to build enough of a cushion in the finale.
Rookie Gregory Polanco, who is batting .387 after a week in the big leagues, had two hits and joined some exclusive company. He’s the first Pirates player to get a hit in each of his first six games since Roberto Clemente in 1955.
Andrew McCutchen had two hits and is batting .444 during an 11-game hitting streak.
But the Pirates stranded 10 runners, and they missed a chance to take the lead in the 10th, when A.J. Ramos (4-0) loaded the bases with none out. On a 3-2 pitch, Russell Martin grounded into a 5-2-3 double play started by McGehee, and Clint Barmes struck out to end the threat.
Worley was recalled from Triple-A before the game to fill in for left-hander Francisco Liriano, who went on the disabled list Wednesday with a left oblique strain. Worley allowed five hits and no walks.
“Today things were working,” Worley said. “I gave myself a chance out there, and that’s all you can ask.”
“Very solid,” Hurdle said. “He threw strikes and pounded the zone, and the tempo and the pace were really good.”
Leading off the 10th, Rafael Furcal fouled a ball off his left knee and tumbled to the dirt in pain, but stayed in the game long enough to single. Pinch runner Ed Lucas advanced on a sacrifice, and Giancarlo Stanton was intentionally walked.
Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, and McGehee’s fly to right field against Jared Hughes (3-2) scored Lucas without a play.
Polanco singled in the third and scored the game’s first run on Starling Marte’s double. Josh Harrison singled home a run in the fourth to put the Pirates ahead 2-0.
The Pirates optioned INF Michael Martinez to Triple-A Indianapolis. ... Pittsburgh begins a three-game homestand Tuesday when RHP Brandon Cumpton (2-2, 6.06) starts against Cincinnati RHP Johnny Cueto (6-5, 1.85). ... The Marlins open a three-game series at home Monday against the Cubs when RHP Tom Koehler (5-5, 3.68) starts against RHP Jason Hammel (6-4, 2.81).