Austin Barnes and Mookie Betts spark Dodgers to win over Marlins

A game-winning blast and a rally-sparking bunt won’t erase 4½ months of misery for Austin Barnes, but the .147-hitting Dodgers catcher finally found a shred of success and a glimmer of hope to build on this past week.

Barnes followed Thursday night’s game-winning home run against Milwaukee with a run-scoring bunt on Saturday to key a three-run eighth inning in a 3-1 comeback victory over the Miami Marlins in the first game of a split doubleheader in Chavez Ravine.

“Yeah, you’ve just got to keep going,” said Barnes, who has a team-worst .410 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, one homer and eight RBIs in 45 games as Will Smith’s backup. “There’s still season left, and I take pride in winning the game. I’ve been doing that lately, on all sides of the ball.”

The Dodgers were unable to solve Miami right-hander Eury Perez, the 6-foot-8, 220-pound rookie who used his 99-mph fastball, 86-mph slider and 82-mph curve to blank the Dodgers on two hits — a Chris Taylor double in the second inning and a Smith single in the fourth — in six innings with a career-high 10 strikeouts and no walks.

“I had to check his bio to make sure he’s only 20 years old,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Perez, who induced 22 swinging strikes. “I couldn’t believe it. He’s [Sandy] Alcantara-like. He’s got a bright future. He’s special.”

Marlins left-hander Andrew Nardi retired the side in order in the seventh to preserve Miami’s 1-0 lead, but James Outman sparked an eighth-inning rally off Marlins right-hander David Robertson with a one-out walk.

Dodgers shortstop Amed Rosario catches a pop fly during the eighth inning in Game 1 Saturday.

Dodgers shortstop Amed Rosario catches a pop fly during the eighth inning in Game 1 Saturday.

(Ryan Sun / Associated Press)

Kiké Hernández singled to center, advancing Outman to third. Barnes, whose eighth-inning homer lifted the Dodgers to a 1-0 win over the Brewers on Thursday, dropped a safety squeeze toward first base to score Outman for a 1-1 tie.

Miami first baseman Josh Bell fielded the bunt, but his off-balance throw home went to the backstop, allowing Hernandez to take third and Barnes second. Mookie Betts followed with a two-run single to left-center for a 3-1 lead.

Closer Evan Phillips retired the side in order in the top of the ninth for his 19th save, completing a strong pitching performance that included one scoreless inning by opener Caleb Ferguson, five one-run, three-hit, five-strikeout innings by triple-A call-up Ryan Pepiot and two scoreless innings by Ryan Yarbrough.

The man behind the plate guiding all of those pitchers? Barnes, who added a pinch of offense to go with his solid game-calling and receiving abilities.

“I give Austin a lot of credit because the last couple weeks, he’s been a complete baseball player,” Roberts said. “Sometimes when you’re struggling, you want to swing your way out of it. But for him to be able to step back and play for the good of the team, his teammates, to win a baseball game. …

“It’s certainly been a forgettable first two-thirds of the season [for Barnes], but if he can finish off the right way and help us win baseball games, he can feel like he’s carrying his weight, which he is now.”

Bunting may be a lost art in today’s slug-heavy game, but not to Barnes, who is so good at it that Roberts didn’t hesitate calling for another bunt after Barnes fouled off his first attempt.

“It’s a hard play to defend, even when you know it’s coming,” Barnes said. “That’s been my game my whole career, my whole life, just trying to do all the little things to help the team win.”

The Dodgers made two superb defensive plays to keep the game scoreless through three innings, the first by Outman, who slammed into the center-field wall while catching Jake Burger’s drive over his head with two on to end the top of the first.

With runners on first and third and one out in the third, Peralta caught Bell’s fly ball in medium right field and sailed a throw to the plate to nail Jorge Soler, who was attempting to tag from third base.

The Marlins took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Burger reached on an infield single and scored on Bryan De La Cruz’s RBI double into the left-field corner, but the Dodgers rallied in the eighth for their 31st comeback win of the season and eighth when trailing after seven innings. They are 16-2 in August.

“You just know that when the game gets more intense, the higher the leverage, our guys are still able to manage their emotions,” Roberts said. “I think that speaks to the success we’ve had of late.”