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MIA@NYM: Bell, Marlins drop a tough game vs. Mets

NEW YORK -- Once again, a Marlins starting pitcher went above and beyond. And yet again, it wasn't enough.

The Marlins' miserable road trip ended in agonizing fashion on Thursday afternoon.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis' two-out, walk-off single to right field off Heath Bell capped a two-run ninth inning that lifted the Mets to a 3-2 win over the Marlins, who lost all five games in two cities.

The loss in front of 20,660 at Citi Field overshadowed another brilliant performance by a Miami starter. Ricky Nolasco limited New York to one run on five hits with five strikeouts in seven innings.

A lack of offense again underscored the afternoon, as the Marlins finished the road swing with six total runs.

"We're better than what we're showing right now," said Jose Reyes, the former Met who went 1-for-12 in his first trip back to New York. "We're not playing the way we're supposed to be playing, that's why we lost all the games on this road trip."

Nothing has been easy thus far for the Marlins, and the ninth inning was another challenge.

A pesky drizzle came at a time Bell was stringing together four walks.

The hard-throwing right-hander threw 46 pitches, which according to Baseball Reference, is the highest number of pitches for a blown save in the ninth inning since Danys Baez tossed 47 on Sept. 8, 2002.

"I felt fine. If you looked, I made my pitches," Bell said. "Yeah, I did walk some guys. One guy was kind of by design. Yeah, you don't want to walk people, but there are certain times you do."

The scouting report was the youthful Mets roster was aggressive, and Bell was looking to get some swings and misses on offspeed pitches out of the zone. It didn't happen, as the Mets were patient, and worked deep counts and walks.

The epic battle of the inning was Bell against pinch-hitter Justin Turner, who grinded out a 13-pitch plate appearance before walking to tie the game.

David Wright opened the inning with a walk, and he moved to second on a hit-and-run groundout to first by Lucas Duda.

With first base open, Bell pitched carefully to Ike Davis, who also walked.

The showdown with Josh Thole was crucial, because Bell threw a couple of pitches he thought were strikes, but home-plate umpire Dale Scott ruled balls. On a full count, Thole walked to load the bases.

"It changes the whole dynamic of the inning," Bell said of not getting some strike calls.

With the bases full, Turner fell behind, 0-2, and then he chipped away, fouling off four straight full-count pitches. Turner had eight foul balls in the sequence.

"I threw my pitches," said Bell, who has saved two of five chances. "I thought I'd get him, and I just pulled on a fastball. That pitch, I wish I could have that one back."

The more pitches he saw, the more comfortable Turner was at the plate.

"He was making some pretty good pitches, and I was able to foul them off," Turner said. "When you're up there for that long, you kind of get that locked in feeling. He ended up yanking a fastball a little ... just off the plate. I still missed a lot of decent pitches I should've hit."

Scott Hairston tapped a grounder to first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who threw home for the force out, keeping the bases full for Nieuwenhuis.

With two outs, the Mets center fielder ended it with a single to deep right field.

Of the 46 pitches Bell threw, 24 were strikes.

Despite the high pitch total, Bell insists he will be ready for Friday night. Out of frustration, the closer made reference that an unnamed member of the Marlins' training staff said the right-hander may be working too hard in his daily routine.

"Apparently our trainer says I work too hard," Bell said. "So, I'm out busting my [butt] every single day on the treadmill, the bike, working, looking at video. Maybe I need to listen to him and stop working so hard."

Bell didn't identify who on the training staff made the comment.

Although Bell labored, manager Ozzie Guillen had no intention of replacing his All-Star closer.

"He's my closer," the Miami manager said. "You go out and spend that much money to bring in the best closer in the game. This guy, I believe in him. I'm not going to change my mind until I change my mind. We have confidence in him. I think he will be fine."

Nolasco echoed the confidence the Marlins have in Bell.

"It's frustrating. But [Bell's] been here before," Nolasco said. "He's going to be fine. He's going to figure it out. It's just something he's going to have to battle through, and he's going to be fine. We need him, and we need him bad."

The Marlins scratched out two runs in seven innings off Mets lefty Jon Niese, who struck out six and scattered four hits.

Sanchez hit a third inning home run for Miami, his first shot of the season.

Miami endured a difficult week, but the one constant was the rotation. The starters on the road trip combined to allow seven runs in 34 2/3 innings -- a 1.82 ERA.

"It's tough, but at the same time, it's part of the game," Nolasco said. "We can't let that affect us. We have to go out and do what we can do. As long as we can do that, sooner or later, everybody else is going to pick things up. There are going to be times when we score eight runs and we're giving up seven runs.

"Right now, we're kind of picking up the bats. Later on, it's going to even out and the bats are going to pick us up when we give up some runs." Comments