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HOU@MIA: Maxwell scores go-ahead run on LoMo's error

MIAMI -- With the roof open at Marlins Park on Saturday night, the Marlins couldn't slam the door shut on the Astros.

Heath Bell, one of the most reliable closers in the game the past three years, was unable to protect a three-run lead in the ninth inning, and the Astros rallied to a 5-4 win.

Formerly an All-Star with the Padres, Bell has now let his first two save chances in Miami slip away.

Last Sunday at Cincinnati, Bell had a one-run lead in the ninth disappear in a loss to the Reds.

"It's just really hard to look at my teammates and them have confidence in me," Bell said. "I have confidence in my ability, but I haven't shown them that I can do it. I've [messed up] twice. I'm 0-2. I don't feel too happy right now."

The Astros capitalized on four hits, a catcher's interference by Brett Hayes and two other Miami errors to score four runs.

Despite the sloppy all-around play in the inning, Bell accepted full responsibility for the frustrating finish.

"It's my fault. It's nobody's fault but mine," the closer said. "It's absolutely nobody's fault by mine. Don't blame anybody but me."

Because Bell threw 24 pitches in a non-save chance on Friday, and he added 22 more on Saturday, bench coach Joey Cora said the closer may not be available on Sunday.

"He's our closer," said Cora, filling in for the suspended Ozzie Guillen. "He's going to have to figure it out, because he's going to be the man. I'm not so sure if he's pitching tomorrow, because he's got two nights in a row with a lot of pitches.

"I'm going to talk to him tomorrow when he shows up. I know that he's going to say that he's ready tomorrow, but we'll see. He's thrown a lot of pitches the last two nights, so we'll see what happens."

Bell says he understands if his number isn't called.

"I'd love to go out there, but I don't think I've earned it, plain and simple," he said. "It will mean a lot to me if Joey puts me out there, if I get a chance. But I'll understand if he doesn't, because I haven't earned it."

After Bell logged a quick out in the ninth, Jose Altuve doubled to right-center and ended up at third on Emilio Bonifacio's bobble. Travis Buck delivered an RBI single and Jordan Schafer reached on catcher's interference.

After a flyout, the Marlins were a pitch away from victory, but J.D. Martinez delivered an RBI single with the count full to cut their lead to one.

"I was just trying to stay with something up the middle," said Martinez, a Pembroke Pines, Fla., native who grew up rooting for the Marlins. "I felt confident, I felt like I saw the ball well. Once I got 3-2, I really didn't panic. That was one of the first times I was relaxed. I was surprised how relaxed I was, just because I knew I saw his pitches well and if I got out, I chased something and fetched one of his pitches and got myself out. I felt confident against him and really didn't hit that panic button."

The Astros tied it at 4 on Carlos Lee's single to right, and Bell was lifted for Randy Choate.

"I thought I had good stuff," Bell said. "Apparently I didn't. I didn't get the job done, that's really all that matters."

Choate induced a fly ball to left by Brian Bogusevic. With the wind swirling, Logan Morrison tried to cradle the ball, but it dropped for an error, giving Houston the improbable lead.

"It is what it is. A lot of things happened before that play," Cora said. "We should have won this game. You're going to lose sometimes like this, but the team needs to show up tomorrow and win the game."

The Marlins were primed for their first series win of the season, but now they have split the first two games with the Astros.

Bell blew back-to-back saves for only the second time since becoming a regular closer in 2009. The other time was at Colorado on Sept. 11-12, 2009.

"It doesn't happen often, but it's happened," Bell said. "I was [ticked] off then, too."

The Marlins scored three runs in the third inning off Bud Norris to claim a 4-1 lead.

Hanley Ramirez, who had three hits on the night, had an RBI single. Morrison added a sacrifice fly and Gaby Sanchez had a run-scoring single in the inning.

Carlos Zambrano was in line for the win despite six walks, holding the Astros to one run in six innings. Zambrano walked three in the first inning, but minimized the damage, allowing the one run on a Lee RBI single.

"The first two games I've had a problem with the first inning," said Zambrano, who gave up three runs in the first in Cincinnati last Sunday. "Thank God I was able to get back and settle down and pitch six innings. I don't worry about anything else, like the fact that pitches are moving, as long as I'm able to make a big pitch when I need to." Comments