MIAMI -- Closer Steve Cishek suffered just his second blown save of the season Thursday night -- an inning after the Marlins took the lead -- and Miami dropped the series finale to Philadelphia, 5-4, at Marlins Park.
A leadoff walk to Tony Gwynn Jr. came back to haunt Cishek in the ninth when, with the infield in, second baseman Donovan Solano threw home unsuccessfully on a grounder by Jimmy Rollins -- instead of to first for the second out -- as Gwynn scored to tie the game at 4. Chase Utley then chopped a grounder to second base that forced Solano to throw to first for a second out instead of a third, which allowed the go-ahead run to score.
"In the heat of the battle, sometimes you have a split-second to make a decision," manager Mike Redmond said. "That's the way it goes."
And it's almost the way it's gone all month for the Marlins, who fell back to three games under .500. Miami had a one-game lead in the National League East with a 32-28 record on June 5. In the 25 games since, the team has gone 9-16 and toppled down to third place, six games out of first.
"We had it right there," said Cishek, who has allowed four earned runs in his last three appearances. "We were down pressing for first place, trying to get up there in the division. Can't have that happen."
Despite losing a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning, the Marlins were poised late to beat the Phillies for their first three-game series sweep since they swept the Mets at home from May 5-7.
The eighth saw Ed Lucas and Giancarlo Stanton lead off with back-to-back singles off reliever Jake Diekman. On a 1-1 fastball to Casey McGehee, the ball bounced to the left of catcher Cameron Rupp for a wild pitch, allowing the runners to advance. McGehee then grounded out slowly enough to second base that Lucas was able to score to tie the game.
Stanton was able to score the go-ahead run when pinch-hitter Jeff Baker roped a ball into the gap in right-center field for a triple. It was Baker's third straight hit coming off the bench.
But with one out and Baker on third, the Marlins were unable to execute. Jarrod Saltalamacchia bounced out to third, and Baker found himself in a rundown trying to reach home. After tagging out Baker, third baseman Cody Asche was able to catch Saltalamacchia trying to reach second base to end the inning.
Even then, the Marlins had a one-run lead and a closer in Cishek who had 18 saves and a 2.80 ERA entering Thursday. The ninth inning, however, was too much for the team to overcome despite Marcell Ozuna leading off the Marlins' half with a single and reaching second on a sacrifice bunt.
"The offense battled back and had some big at-bats, Bake a big hit," Redmond said. "That's a tough one to swallow. That's one you got to win."
Starter Brad Hand had been on track to take the win until the sixth inning, when he let a 2-0 lead get away.
In 11 pitches, Hand loaded the bases with three straight singles and had no choice but to turn the ball over to reliever Chris Hatcher. Hand watched his lead disappear as Ryan Howard scored on a fielder's choice and Cameron Rupp ripped a two-run double to the right-field wall.
Hand, who threw 99 pitches in the five-plus-inning start, had gotten himself into enough jams in the early innings of the game to have 88 pitches by the end of the fifth. But he worked himself out of trouble and even gave himself a shot at what could have been just his second career win in 18 Major League starts by laying down some successful bunts that gave him a lead.
"He gave us everything he had," Redmond said. "His command -- it was like some of those strikes were running out of the zone. But he was able to make pitches when he really needed to."
The Marlins' rotation has been in flux all season. Ten starters have taken the mound for the team, including two pitchers (Kevin Slowey and Randy Wolf) who aren't even in the organization anymore. And with Anthony DeSclafani having trouble adjusting to Major League hitters, the Marlins reinstated Hand from the disabled list to make the start against the Phillies.
Hand, who posted a 2.38 ERA in six rehab starts in June, had spent the majority of this season as a middle reliever -- but he began his career as a starter. The lefty even made two spot starts in April, but he allowed eight runs on 12 hits across 6 1/3 innings.
So Hand came in with something to prove. He hadn't made it beyond the third inning in those April starts, something he was able to overcome on Thursday.
"Down the road, we're definitely going to hope for him to limit his pitches so he can make it through that sixth inning," Redmond said. "But I thought overall it was a good effort by him."
Maria Torres is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.