MIAMI -- In the brief time it's been in existence, Marlins Park gained an early reputation for being a pitcher's paradise and a place where fly balls go to die. The Astros found that out the hard way Friday night, hitting at least two balls that probably would have been out of most ballparks.
The final swing of the game, a laser by Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez that bounced off the wall in left field in the 11th inning, also probably would have been a home run in just about any other ballpark, but the Marlins were satisfied with the result nonetheless.
Sanchez's double off the wall scored Chris Coghlan from first base with the winning run and sent the Marlins to a 5-4, walk-off win over the Astros, who suffered their third loss in a row and again struggled to get key hits with men on base.
"It's not a broken record, but all of our four losses the guys have done a good job of getting ourselves back into games and giving ourselves a chance to win it or at least score some runs," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "It hasn't been there, but the guys are battling their tail off and that's nice to see."
Marlins interim manager Joey Cora was surprised how big the ballpark played.
"Even that ball that Gaby hit, he crushed it," he said. "He either better go to the weight room a little bit more or whatever because it seems like it's going to play big. But it's still April so you don't know what it's going to do when it gets hotter. So far, it's a big, big, big ballpark."
The Astros fell behind 4-1 and tied the game in the eighth inning when J.D. Martinez, a Miami native playing his first professional game in his hometown, clubbed a two-run homer for the first regular season home run in the history of Marlins Park.
"It was definitely awesome," said Martinez, who's hit safely in each of the Astros' first seven games. "It was a great moment, but it would have been a lot better had we got the win today. It [stinks] the way it ended."
Houston relievers David Carpenter, Wilton Lopez and Fernando Rodriguez each threw two innings of scoreless relief of starter Lucas Harrell before Brandon Lyon gave up a leadoff single to Coghlan in the 11th that glanced off his glove and rolled toward third base.
Sanchez rocketed an 0-2 pitch to left field and just over the head of Martinez, hitting off the bottom of the wall and rolling back toward the infield to allow Coghlan to score easily.
"Sanchez hit it well and I was going back and it was a tough ball over my head," Martinez said.
The Astros, who were 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position, squandered a chance to take the lead in the ninth when Marlins reliever Heath Bell walked three consecutive batters after two outs without throwing a strike. Bell's 13th consecutive ball put him behind Carlos Lee, and the crowd of 30,169 responded with a sarcastic cheer when he threw the next pitch down the middle for a strike.
Lee tried to check his swing on the 1-1 pitch, but wound up hitting a dribbler to first base and bailing Bell out. The Astros are 0-for-6 with the bases loaded this season.
"I have to put that one on me," Lee said. "That was my fault. The guy was throwing balls everywhere and I kind of took my aggressiveness out of the picture. I wanted to make sure it was a strike, and thinking of that I came out of my game. I wasn't aggressive enough to take a full swing."
Harrell, who dealt seven scoreless innings in his season debut five days earlier against the Rockies, struggled through four innings, giving up seven hits, four walks and four runs. All four Marlins runs scored against Harrell came with two outs.
"I was behind a lot and I was pitching off my other stuff," Harrell said. "My game plan is to use my sinker and I got away from it early and never really got back to it. I really struggled throwing strikes."
The Astros hit a pair of long fly balls to left field in the fourth when Lee and Chris Johnson both flied out to the warning track on balls that looked like homers off the bat. They barely made it to the warning track.
"This is a big ballpark, I tell you what," said Johnson, who tumbled into the stands in the ninth inning and caught a foul pop. "If we were playing at our place or any other place, it's probably a high-scoring game. This place is big. But what are you going to do?"