NEW YORK (AP) - Adam Conley’s pitching was superb. His bunting was ugly.
Conley struck out a career-high nine in six scoreless innings but botched a pair of bunts that stifled the Miami Marlins’ offense in a 2-1 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday.
Kevin Plawecki grounded a tiebreaking, two-run single through a drawn-in infield against Dustin McGowan (0-1) in the seventh inning, and the Marlins failed to finish what would have been their first three-game sweep at the Mets since 2009.
“When the offense is slow like that, I have a job to do,” Conley said. “Twice today I was asked to give myself up and put a guy over there, and I wasn’t able to get it done.”
Logan Verrett, starting in place of injured pitcher Jacob deGrom, allowed three hits in six shutout innings, and Hansel Robles and Jerry Blevins (1-0) combined to escape a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the seventh as the defending NL champions stopped a four-game losing streak.
A 25-year-old right-hander who made his big league debut last June, Conley kept the Mets mostly off-balance with a fastball, changeup and slider. He allowed four hits - all singles - and one walk. After New York loaded the bases on three singles in the fourth, Conley retired Wilmer Flores on a foulout and struck out Asrubal Cabrera on a slider.
After Miguel Rojas’ leadoff single in the third, Conley fouled off two bunts and missed the ball entirely to strike out on the next pitch. NL batting champion Dee Gordon then grounded into a double play.
“For me that’s a really big deal,” Conley said. “Everyone in the world knows what Dee can do with a pitch, so if I can put a guy in scoring position there, it changes the game.”
Rojas walked with one out in the fifth, and Conley fouled off three straight bunts while pulling his bat away from each pitch, striking out again.
“Those are areas we got to be able to execute,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “If you get two bunts down, you give yourself two chances to score.”
New York went ahead in the seventh when Flores singled, took second on a wild pitch and third on Cabrera’s single. McGowan retired Juan Lagares on a comebacker, but Plawecki singled just past the outstretched glove of shortstop Miguel Rojas for his first hit this season.
Pitching for the third straight day, Jeurys Familia got a five-out save. He entered with one on and one out in the eighth, got Giancarlo Stanton to fly out, then gave up a hit to Martin Prado and an RBI single to Justin Bour. Familia retired J.T. Realmuto on a comebacker and pitched a perfect ninth for his second save, striking out Gordon to end the game.
Miami went 3-2 on its first trip of the season and headed home for a weekend series against Atlanta.
“Once you win the first two, that’s not really what you’re looking for at that point. You’re looking to basically be able to throttle somebody,” Mattingly said. “We had a chance, and we just didn’t get it done.”
Ichiro Suzuki made his first start of the season for Miami, and the 42-year-old outfielder doubled in the fourth for his 2,937th hit. Asked about how much playing time he might get, he responded through an interpreter: “I’m not that old.”
THE LONG RUN
Gordon’s 16-pitch plate appearance Tuesday night, which sparked Miami’s go-ahead, eighth-inning rally, was the longest in Marlins’ history, according to STATS. The previous high of 15 was set by Gregg Zaun on Sept. 7, 1998, and matched by Mike Lowell on July 25, 2001.
Marlins: Wei-Yin Chen (0-0) is scheduled to pitch in Friday’s series opener at home against Atlanta.
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