Brad Hand pitched five shutout innings while making an emergency start but Miami's bullpen let it slip away in a 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday that dropped the Marlins to just 2-8 since Jennings traded his general manager's suit for a uniform earlier this month.
"I still believe in these guys," Jennings said. "There's a heck of a lot of talent out there that's showing positive things. But you have to execute pitches in situations to get the outs and shut down innings like that when they're getting away from you."
It didn't happen enough against the Pirates, who scored five runs with two outs in a victory on Tuesday then one upped themselves less than 24 hours later, bringing five runners home with two outs in the seventh inning off Marlins relievers Mike Dunn and Sam Dyson (2-2) to extend their winning streak to six.
Miami appeared to be in command when Dunn quickly retired the first two batters in the seventh. Things suddenly fell apart. Seven straight Pirates reached base, with Josh Harrison and Pedro Alvarez producing RBI singles to tie it and typically free-swinging cleanup hitter Starling Marte working a walk off Dyson to put Pittsburgh in front. When Jung Ho Kang lined a two-run single over second baseman Dee Gordon's glove, Miami was on its way to losing for the 11th time in its last 12 games in Pittsburgh.
"Brad pitched his butt off today and it kind of stinks that I didn't execute in that situation," Dyson said. "Everybody in this clubhouse deserves to win, especially today when we perform."
Hand, pressed into his first start of the season when injuries forced Henderson Alvarez and Mat Latos to the disabled list, kept the Pirates off balance. Pittsburgh managed just four hits with Hand on the mound and Miami appeared to be in decent shape when Justin Bour and Christian Yelich both sent Gerrit Cole offerings into the seats in right field to stake the Marlins to a 2-0 lead. Dee Gordon had two hits to boost his average to a major league-leading .376 but Miami was outscored 14-5 by the Pirates over three largely forgettable days.
"We had two extra-base hits, both of them home runs," Jennings said. "Solo home runs, you're not going to win games on, very, very seldom."
For awhile it seemed to be enough against Cole (7-2), who struck out seven in seven innings. He ended up tying Michael Wacha and Bartolo Colon for the National League lead in victories when the Pirates won for the first time this season when trailing after six innings.
"You've got to to be able to close it out, we did not do that today," Jennings said. "We knew we had our hands full with one of the best pitchers in the league. We failed to get that job done in the seventh inning."
Pittsburgh went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position before getting hot when Hand left after 74 pitches.
"We had an idea of where we wanted to go with him pitch-wise and it worked out perfect," Jennings said. "He did a heck of a job for us in a situation where we needed it and gave us a quality outing."
Marlins: RHP Jose Fernandez was scheduled to throw a simulated game on Wednesday as he continues his rehab from Tommy John surgery in 2014. ... RHP Jarred Cosart was scheduled to throw off the mound on Wednesday as he begins to come back from a bout with vertigo.
Marlins: Miami is off Thursday and will spend the weekend in New York to face the Mets. New York swept a four-game series from the Marlins at Citi Field in April. Dan Haren (4-2, 3.09) starts for Miami. Haren pitched six shutout innings in his previous start against Baltimore.
Pirates: Pittsburgh begins a 10-game road trip on Thursday night when it begins a four-game set in San Diego. A.J. Burnett (4-1, 1.37) will look for his fifth straight win. The 38-year-old leads the majors in ERA and gave up one run in seven innings, striking out 10 last Saturday against the Mets. Burnett is just 3-7 with a 4.23 ERA in 11 games against the Padres.
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