Dodgers pitcher Joe Blanton was pitching a masterpiece against the Marlins… (Sarah Glenn / Getty Images )
MIAMI — Everything changed on one play — for Joe Blanton, for Jerry Hairston Jr. and for the Dodgers.
Donovan Solano's double down the third base line in the fifth inning started the sudden and swift implosion of Blanton, who was pitching a masterpiece up to that point.
The double forced Hairston to dive and worsened his existing hip problem, prompting his removal an inning later.
The double was also the first of five hits in the Miami Marlins' four-run inning, which sent the Dodgers crashing to a 7-3 defeat Saturday night at Marlins Park.
"The switch got flipped and we couldn't keep them from hitting the ball hard," Manager Don Mattingly said.
The Dodgers, who started the day tied for first place, fell a game behind the San Francisco Giants in the National League West.
But more disconcerting than the change in the standings was the condition of Hairston, who has received the majority of starts at third base since Hanley Ramirez was moved to shortstop a week earlier. Hairston described his removal from the game in the sixth inning as a "precaution," but acknowledged his left hip had been bothering him for some time.
"It's one of those things where you have to manage it better and I will," Hairston said.
Hairston was replaced by Luis Cruz, a career minor leaguer who is hitting .238.
If Hairston is unavailable, Mattingly's only other options at third base would be Adam Kennedy or Juan Uribe.
Kennedy is hitting .250. Uribe, who grounded out in a pinch-hit appearance in the sixth inning, is batting .192.
Blanton's final pitching line was unsightly — he was charged with four runs and six hits in five innings — but Mattingly didn't sound concerned about his long-term prospects.
Giancarlo Stanton, who doubled in the second inning, was the only Marlin to reach base in the first four innings. Blanton had a 2-0 lead and his pitch count was at 50 entering the fifth inning.
"He's rolling along, his pitch count's down," Mattingly said. "You're thinking he's got a chance to go deep."
Solano's one-out double caused a shift in momentum. That double was followed by another, this one by Nick Green that went off Hairston's backhanded glove into left field. Solano scored, cutting the Marlins' deficit to 2-1.
"I was able to get to it," Hairston said. "It took a really bad hop."
Green scored on a double by John Buck, tying the score, 2-2.
The Marlins went ahead, 3-2, when Buck went home on a safety squeeze by Gorkys Hernandez. Justin Ruggiano singled in Austin Kearns for the final run of the inning.
"They sent two rollers down the line," Blanton said. "They were right down the line and they got through. That kind of started it. I made one or two mistakes after that. It just kind of happened. It happened quick."
Mattingly compared the game Blanton pitched to one Clayton Kershaw pitched in St. Louis on July 24. Like Blanton, Kershaw had a shutout through four innings. But Kershaw gave up two runs in the fifth and six in the sixth and the Dodgers lost.
"For both Joe and I, things got a little bit fast," catcherA.J. Ellissaid.
Ellis blamed himself for not altering Blanton's rhythm.
"I was working so quick early and things were going so good," Blanton said. "I was staying on that same pace instead of trying to slow the game back down."
Ramirez continued to be booed in his old ballpark, as he went one for four.
The only returning hero to receive a warm ovation from the Miami crowd was Misty May-Treanor, who won her third consecutive Olympic gold medal in beach volleyball. May-Treanor was in town to see her husband, Dodgers catcher Matt Treanor.