Padres can't complete sweep in Miami
Latos gets bounced in fourth despite pair of defensive gems
MIAMI -- On Sunday afternoon, Mat Latos experienced the highs and lows of big league baseball.
The talented starting pitcher threw three perfect innings before crumbling in the fourth as the Padres fell, 6-4, to the Marlins before 12,873 fans at Land Shark Stadium.
"We jumped out to a nice 3-0 lead and Mat was throwing the ball great, and then they strung an inning together," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We battled back, and it was a hard fought game for both sides in the last 5 1/2 innings. We just fell a little short."
Pitching with a three-run lead, Latos ran into some trouble the second time he saw the Marlins' hitters, and they put together a five-run inning against the 21-year-old right-hander.
"The first couple of innings I got ahead with the fastball down in the zone," Latos said. "In the fourth inning, I left a couple of pitches up and didn't make quality pitches when I needed to. They're a good hitting team. I made mistakes and they hit them. It didn't help that I walked a few guys either."
Chris Coghlan sparked Florida's big inning with a base hit to center. The single was his 46th hit in August, which set a new Marlins record for hits in a month. It was also the most hits in a month by a National League rookie since Wally Moon had 52 for the Cardinals in 1954.
Following a Ross Gload single and a diving grab by Will Venable on a Hanley Ramirez line drive to right, Jorge Cantu worked a walk to load the bases and John Baker delivered with a one-out bases-loaded single to center that drove home Coghlan and Gload.
"I think it started with the Cantu at-bat," Black said of when Latos' outing took a turn for the worse. "Two ground-ball base hits by Coghlan and Gload and then Venable made a heck of a catch on the Ramirez ball. What a catch.
"But then with Cantu, he had him 0-2, down two strikes, and then I saw the overthrow. He came out of his mechanics on that at-bat and then I saw a little bit of frustration sort of creep in as the inning progressed. Not much, but enough."
The young starter's frustration multiplied as the Marlins loaded the bases a second time in the fourth. Cody Ross stroked a two-run single to left-center, and Ross moved to third and Dan Uggla scored on a Tony Gwynn throwing error, ending Latos' afternoon after 3 1/3 innings. The right-hander allowed five runs (four earned) on four hits while striking out two and walking two.
"Latos threw well those first three innings," Ross said. "After seeing him once, we got a little more patient and made him work. We got some timely hitting when we needed it."
A native of South Florida, Latos pitched in front of family and friends on Sunday, but Black does not believe that it affected his performance on the mound.
"We spoke after his outing on the bench about that inning and what I saw," Black said. "He retired the first nine, so why couldn't it continue? That's what I was thinking. I knew he was going to be emotional, because I'm sure there were a lot of people in the stands with him being from this area."
"That's the game of baseball," Latos said. "One minute you're on top of the world and the next you're down at the bottom. I'll come back the next day, work harder and try to improve."
The Padres did most of their scoring in the fourth as well. Kevin Kouzmanoff scorched a double to center that drove home Oscar Salazar. The Padres third baseman later scored when Marlins starter Sean West made an errant throw to first trying to retire Venable. San Diego picked up a third run in the inning when Chase Headley scored from third on a passed ball by Baker.
That's all the damage San Diego could muster against West, as he finished allowing three runs (one earned) on seven hits over six innings while striking out seven and walking two.
San Diego plated a run in the eighth when Headley scored on a Gwynn groundout, but it would not be enough as the Marlins responded with a run in the bottom half of the inning and Leo Nunez shut the door in the ninth to pick up his 17th save of the season.
Despite the loss, Black is pleased with how his team played on the road.
"It was a good trip," Black said. "We were on the road with two teams heading into September with postseason aspirations and we won both series. Our guys should be very proud of that."
David Villavicencio is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.