The Dodgers offense was slumping heading into Wednesday's game, but they fell into a deep slumber at the hands of Justin Nicolino in the Marlins' 2-0 win for a third win in as many days for Miami at Dodger Stadium.
Nicolino, who pitched seven scoreless innings in his major league debut in 2015, was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans to make this start, his 2016 debut. And all he did was the same, but this time extending his scoreless baseball into the eighth inning.
As his 7.6-percent strikeout rate from 2015 would attest, Nicolino doesn't strike many people out, and only two struck out against him on Thursday. But he still kept the Dodgers off balance all night, blanking them on two hits and two walks.
It was the first time the Dodgers were shutout this season, which was a shame since they got a much-needed quality start out of Scott Kazmir.
Giancarlo Stanton has his fingerprints all over this series, mostly with an assortment of rockets measured in the triple digits in exit velocity off his bat. So naturally, it was a 78-mph dunker to left field that shattered his bat which scored the Marlins' first run.
That was one of four singles for the Marlins in the first inning, good for two runs and pretty much the story of Kazmir's night.
The left-hander didn't allow another run, and got through six innings for the first time since his first start of the season. Kazmir scattered seven singles and threw a season-high 113 pitches, but struck out six and walked one.
The Dodgers found themselves in a rally in the eighth inning thanks to three walks by three different Marlins relief pitchers, the last of which prompted an argument that got both pitcher David Phelps and manager Don Mattingly ejected by over-eager home plate umpire Todd Tichenor.
Not even the resulting fan encouragement after the ejections could wake up the Dodgers offense, with Jose Urena — the Marlins' fifth pitcher of the inning — struck out Yasiel Puig and got Adrian Gonzalez to fly out to end the frame.
Urena remained in the game in the ninth and finished the Dodgers off for his first career save.
All the struggling Dodgers offense — with a total of five runs and 15 hits in the first three games of this series — has to do to avoid a sweep is to beat the Marlins best pitcher in Jose Fernandez on Thursday night. But the Dodgers will have Kenta Maeda and his 0.36 ERA in their corner as well.
Home runs: none
WP - Justin Nicolino (1-0): 7⅓ IP, 2 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
LP - Scott Kazmir (1-2): 6 IP, 7 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts
LP - Jose Urena (1): 1⅔ IP, 2 strikeouts