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Another bullpen implosion burns D-backs in loss to Marlins

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Taylor Clarke pauses after giving up a run to the Miami Marlins during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — A day after the Arizona Diamondbacks bats picked up a bullpen that spiraled in the middle innings against the Miami Marlins, another series of bad performances from the relief pitchers became too much to overcome.

A 12-6 loss to the Marlins at Chase Field on Tuesday included a half-game of promise for the D-backs followed by a disappointing, bitter-tasting final four frames of 10 runs allowed.

Starter Alex Young set up the D-backs decently enough through five innings.

While he exited after the top of the fifth with Arizona trailing 2-1, he’d only allowed one earned run, and his teammates put together a three-run bottom of the fifth to take a 4-2 lead into the sixth.

“I thought offensively we scrapped and battled and we took a lead,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “It was 4-2, and it seemed like we were in a good spot to start to maneuver into our bullpen and get to the backend guys, and I think that’s where it unraveled for us.”

Lovullo thought about riding Young another inning despite the starting pitcher scuffling on a few occasions.

Instead, the manager shelved his starting pitcher after Young had allowed five hits with four walks with two runs allowed (one earned) on just 81 pitches.

Immediately, it appeared to pay off.

Kevin Cron, pinch-hitting for Young, smacked a first-pitch, leadoff home run to left-center field to tie the game at 2-2 before consecutive doubles by Josh Rojas and Eduardo Escobar gave Arizona a 3-2 lead. A Wilmer Flores groundball single that got under the glove of Miami shortstop Miguel Rojas’ glove pushed the D-backs’ advantage to 4-2 by the end of the fifth.

That’s when the D-backs bullpen wasted no time spoiling a competitive game.

This time, the Arizona bats didn’t have enough to overcome it, especially after center fielder and All-Star Ketel Marte left before the fifth inning with back stiffness.

“Ketel had some low back tightness and I just elected to remove him from the game,” Lovullo said. “It made sense to get him off the field.”

Marte went 2-for-2 but was pulled — he looked visibly uncomfortable after crossing home plate on a run scored in the third inning that tied the game, 1-1.

Marte will undergo a “precautionary MRI,” Lovullo said, and will not be in the lineup for a 12:40 p.m. first pitch against the Marlins Wednesday on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered. The offensive damage of 17 hits by Miami was too great.

D-backs reliever Matt Andriese hadn’t allowed a run in his last 7.0 innings pitched but in the sixth inning gave up two hits and a walk before a bases-loaded double to Miguel Rojas, who had a career-high six RBIs on the evening.

Arizona’s Jimmie Sherfy followed in the seventh by giving up five straight hits — three doubles and two singles. Taylor Clarke replaced Sherfy, the latter of whom didn’t earn an out, and two more runs tagged onto Sherfy’s night scored under his watch.

Clarke gave up two runs on his own dime in the eighth inning and needed 53 pitches to navigate through 2.0 innings.

All in all, the D-backs allowed at least two baserunners in six straight innings, from the third to the eighth.

“We just didn’t make pitches, we didn’t execute a good gameplan and we made mistakes in the middle of the zone,” Lovullo said. “We got to tighten that up.

“It’s one of those things where a couple guys had some good opportunities and just didn’t execute the gameplan and you can see it equaled a lot of runs.”

Having won 11 of 12 heading into Sept. 8, Arizona had forced its way back into the wild card hunt. Since, the Diamondbacks have lost eight of 10 after Tuesday’s loss.

At 77-75, they remain 5.5 games out of the second National League Wild Card spot with 10 games left this season.

“Where does this push us to tomorrow? I know what everybody’s going to start to ask me,” Lovullo said. “My mindset hasn’t changed, I don’t think the players’ mindset (has) changed. We’re just going to roll it out give it everything we got tomorrow and try to win a baseball game.”

Extra bases

— The end of first baseman Christian Walker’s at-bat in the first inning gave the D-backs 67 hit-by-pitches on the season, tying a club record.

— Walker led the D-backs with three hits and two RBIs on Tuesday.

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