MIAMI — Frustrated and fuming in a strange game Friday night, the Dodgers regained their composure long enough to rally in the ninth inning against the Florida Marlins, get Kazuhisa Ishii off the hook for his first major league loss and possibly finish on an upbeat note.
Then the Marlins ruined the Dodgers' hard work with a last-at-bat revival, completing a 4-3 victory on Luis Castillo's bases-loaded, none-out flare down the left-field line to drive in the winning run before 12,953 at Pro Player Stadium.
Against a drawn-in infield and outfield, Castillo blooped a single just inside the line in shallow left on the first pitch from reliever Giovanni Carrara (2-1). The well-placed hit enabled Eric Owens to score easily from third after he had doubled over right fielder Shawn Green, who froze on the line drive, to start the Marlins' rally.
Marlin right fielder Cliff Floyd made his club's work easier, making a lunging, backhanded catch in the gap in right-center on Dave Roberts' one-out drive with the bases loaded in the ninth. The Dodgers got the tying run when Hiram Bocachica tagged up and scored but were thwarted from breaking the game open when Marlin closer Vladimir Nunez (4-0) struck out Cesar Izturis to end the inning.
Then the Marlins got rolling against Carrara, taking the opener of the three-game series and winning their fifth in a row to remain alone atop the National League East.
"He's the only guy in baseball who would have caught that ball that David Roberts hit," Dodger Manager Jim Tracy said of Floyd. "You can't hit the ball any better; you can't have a better at-bat than he had.
"The ball was clearly way over his head. But because of the reach with his arms, he caught the ball."
Ishii, who worked from the stretch throughout his 61/3-inning outing in an effort to improve his control, overcame early command problems in a no-decision after victories in his first six major league starts. The left-hander threw only 60 strikes in 114 pitches and gave up seven hits and three runs (two earned).
The Dodgers lost Eric Karros when he was batting with two out and the bases loaded in the fourth. Umpire Eric Cooper ejected him for what Karros said was a misunderstanding. On an 0-and-1 pitch in the dirt from Marlin starter A.J. Burnett, Cooper appealed to Mike Reilly at first on Karros' check swing.
When Reilly called a strike, Karros walked away from the plate and, he said later, made a derogatory comment about the call, not Reilly. Cooper apparently heard differently and Karros was ejected for the first time since 1993. Dave Hansen replaced Karros and struck out to end the inning.
"I think [Cooper] believed that I used the word 'You're'" before the comment about Reilly's call, Karros said. "I haven't used that word in 11 years up here because I know that's an automatic ejection. He heard 'You're.' It's that simple."
Floyd robbed Roberts in the ninth and Green's miscue in the Marlins' half of the inning helped shut the door on the Dodgers, completing a bad night that couldn't end soon enough for them.
"It definitely wasn't an ordinary loss," Roberts said. "To find some kind of positive, it shows character that we did come back and put up a fight, but it's a tough loss."
Floyd, whose recent move from left to right was, some believe, to showcase him for a possible trade with the New York Yankees, kept the Marlins in a good position despite Nunez's problems.
The right-hander walked two, gave up a single to Marquis Grissom and Roberts' sacrifice fly in the ninth, failing to preserve a 3-2 lead after relieving Burnett, who matched his career high with 10 strikeouts in eight innings.
Carrara entered in the ninth, his first outing since pitching five scoreless innings and getting the win in Tuesday's 6-5, 16-inning victory over the Atlanta Braves. Owens connected against him, sending the ball to right and Green into confusion.
"I was just reading it, and it went way further than I had judged," said Green, who has come under scrutiny recently for his deep defensive positioning. "I froze and that was it. You have to stop and try to read it. I don't know if I would catch that one [today] on the same play."