MIAMI — Pablo Lopez’s tremendous start to the 2022 season reached another new height on Friday.
The Miami Marlins couldn’t capitalize.
Lopez struck out a career-high 11 batters while giving up just one run over seven innings, but the Marlins gave up the go-ahead run in the ninth as Miami dropped its series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers, 2-1, at loanDepot park. Miami is now 14-18 and has now lost 11 one-run games. Milwaukee is 21-12.
With the game tied 1-1 heading to the ninth, the Brewers loaded the bases against left-handed pitcher Tanner Scott on a Christian Yelich single, Luis Urias hit-by-pitch and Tyrone Taylor pinch-hit single before an out was recorded.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly then pulled Scott for Anthony Bender.
Bender struck out Hunter Renfroe on three pitches for the first out before issuing a four-pitch walk to Jace Peterson to force in the go-ahead run. He then struck out Lorenzo Cain and got Victor Caratini to ground out to first to limit the damage to one run.
But Milwaukee’s Josh Hader held the Marlins’ offense in check in the ninth, getting Jazz Chisholm Jr. and Jesus Aguilar to ground out before Jorge Soler hit a flyball in foul territory that Renfroe caught to end the game and allow Hader to pick up his 13th save in as many opportunities this season.
It spoiled a gem from Lopez.
The 26-year-old-right gave up his lone run two pitches into the night before serving up one of the best starts of his career. He left an 87.6-mph cutter over the heart of the plate for Kolten Wong, who sent the pitch a projected 366 feet to right field.
After that? Lopez was nearly untouchable. Just three of the remaining 24 Brewers batters Lopez faced reached base — Urias on a Brian Anderson two-out fielding error in the first, Cain on a two-out double in the second and Renfroe on a two-out single in the seventh.
Lopez recorded at least one strikeout in six of the seven innings he pitched. He struck out the top of the Brewers’ lineup — Wong, Willy Adames and Yelich — in order in the third and recorded multiple strikeouts in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
Nine of Lopez’s 11 strikeouts came on his change-up, the pitch that is now responsible for 26 of his 46 strikeouts so far this season.
But Lopez was matched practically pitch for pitch by the Brewers’ Corbin Burnes, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner. Burnes struck out seven over seven innings and also gave up just one run — a Jesus Aguilar game-tying solo home run in the third.
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