MILWAUKEE — A little bit of film study and a little mechanical tweak made a big difference for Adam Conley.
The Miami Marlins’ left-hander hadn’t won since Aug. 20 but tweaked his delivery and, as a result, gave the Marlins 5 2/3 strong innings as they snapped a six-game losing streak with a 7-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday night at Miller Park.
“I was watching film, doing scouting report type stuff and I noticed something different that I was doing last year that felt a lot more athletic, more powerful, that we had just been missing,” Conley said. “It was something I took a shot out there and tried. It felt really good. I thought I improved a lot.”
A leadoff walk turned into a 1-0 deficit after one inning but Conley locked in from there, retiring 12 of 13 batters before Keon Broxton and Orlando Arcia opened the fifth with a walk and single.
Conley (7-7) worked out of that jam but allowed back-to-back home runs to open the sixth inning. He retired his next two batters but gave way after Broxton reached on a two-out walk.
“We talked about it yesterday, we talked this thing up like its the playoffs for us,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “The momentum starts with the starter. He gave up a run in the first but once we got some runs back he was able to set the tone for a while. He worked quick, he was throwing strikes and got quick outs. He set the tone.”
Thanks to an early start by Miami’s offense, those home runs didn’t mean too much. Milwaukee’s first-inning lead didn’t last long as the Marlins used six singles and a sacrifice fly to go ahead, 4-1 in the bottom of the inning against Milwaukee right-hander Zach Davies.
The Marlins were considered the home team as the series was supposed to be played in Miami, but moved to Milwaukee because of the effects of Hurricane Irma.
Davies (17-9) had been plagued by first-inning troubles at the outset of the season, but had turned things around over the last few months. He wasn’t so lucky Saturday, giving up six runs on eight hits but didn’t walk a batter and struck out a pair in four innings.
“Zach just didn’t get in a rhythm, really,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “The first inning was a struggle for him. He just wasn’t getting to the corners and that’s trouble for anybody.”
Derek Dietrich made it 6-1 in the third, smacking a two-out, two-run homer to right on a first-pitch changeup that Davies left right over the middle of the plate.
“I noticed early he was starting a lot of guys off with off-speed breaking balls for a strike. In my case, it was a changeup over the middle,” Dietrich said. “It is one of those things where you have to be ready to hit something over the middle of the plate. It doesn’t have to be just a fastball. He is not going to come at you with heaters all the time. You look for something over the plate early, whatever the pitch is.”
Home runs by Ryan Braun and Travis Shaw to open the sixth cut the deficit in half. Conley struck out his next two batters then gave way to Junichi Tazawa after walking Broxton.
Arcia singled and pinch-hitter Neil Walker worked the count full before drawing a walk to load the bases for Hernan Perez, who popped Tazawa’s first pitch into shallow right.
Justin Bour’s RBI single added an insurance run in the eighth off right-hander Matt Garza, who was making only the fifth relief appearance of his 12-year career.
Braun doubled again with two out in the ninth, driving in Domingo Santana to get the Brewers within three, but Kyle Barraclough got Shaw on a pop fly to center ending it.
The loss dropped Milwaukee four games behind NL Central-leading Chicago, which beat the Cardinals earlier in the day. The Brewers trail Colorado by 3 1/2 games for the second wild card spot.
NOTES: During their six-game losing streak, the Marlins were outscored 53-24. ... The Marlins are still hoping to return to Miami on Monday, when they’re scheduled to host the New York Mets but have not yet gotten confirmation from MLB that those games will be played at Marlins Park. ... Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said LHP Brent Suter would start Monday at Pittsburgh, but wasn’t ready to announce who would step in to the No. 5 spot the next time it comes up. The Brewers have used their bullpen to cover the spot the last two turns through the rotation after RHP Matt Garza struggled in the role.