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Mets strand 15 runners, drop series in Miami

It shouldn’t have been close. The Mets had chance after chance to put away the Marlins and gain a split of their four-game series at loanDepot park. But it was the home team that came through in the clutch for a 4-2 win on Thursday to take three of four.

The Marlins broke through for three runs in the eighth after the Mets blew several opportunities throughout the game to put their own runs on the board, starting in the first inning, when the first three batters of the game reached base. But with the bases loaded and no outs, J.D. Davis and Javier Báez struck out before Michael Conforto flied to center.

That set the tone for what was to follow, as New York left 15 runners on base, going 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

Báez struck out five times in all, including instances with three, two, one and zero runners on base. Albert Almora Jr. was the lone offensive bright spot, posting three hits and scoring the Mets’ first run on a Jonathan Villar single in the sixth. New York went on to load the bases again that inning, but Dominic Smith flied out to end the threat.

Down three entering the ninth after Jeurys Familia allowed three runs in the eighth, the Mets loaded the bases once again, even pushing across a run on Brandon Drury’s pinch-hit infield single. But with an opportunity to record his first career four-hit game, Almora grounded out to second to end the game.

Rich Hill got a no-decision for the fourth consecutive start, but deserved a better fate. Relying almost exclusively on his fastball and changeup, the 41-year-old left-hander gave up just three hits and one unearned run over five innings. He struck out three and walked one.

Hill hasn’t won a decision since throwing five innings of three-hit ball with the Rays at Boston on June 23. Struggling ever since, Hill was 0-2 with a 5.65 ERA (18 earned runs over 28 2/3 innings) and 18 strikeouts prior to Thursday’s start.

But he turned it around against the Marlins, completing his first outing without giving up an earned run since June 5 at Texas, a 3-0 combined shutout win.

Hill was acquired by the Mets on July 23 from Tampa Bay in a trade that sent right-hander Tommy Hunter and Minor League catcher Matt Dyer to the Rays. The Mets are the 11th Major League franchise for which he’s played.